Manor F1 closed their doors last week. Until everything is sold off , there is still hope. Small teams have come and gone, but F1 has missed several of them and Manor racing can be added to that list…
Despite not having a glittering career in Formula 1, Manor will be missed by a lot of fans this year. They were small in size, but they overcame that with the sheer effort they put into competing to achieve the best result possible. Their heroics of the late Jules Bianchi in Monaco 2014 will arguably stand out as their biggest and most memorable achievement. 9th place (8th on the road) in a car that really was not as fast as so many of its rivals was a sterling achievement and crucial to giving the team the extra two years it had on the grid. Had we not lost Bianchi to that horrible accident in Suzuka, he would have been in a Ferrari , to quote a well known driver’s phrase, for sure.
This is something people forget about the smaller teams. They are more often than not platforms for young drivers to earn their apprenticeships before moving onto the big time. Take Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber for example. Both drove for the highly popular Minardi team in 2001 and 2002 respectively, then both ended up in winning teams later in their careers thanks to brilliant performances in these cars. Alonso took two titles with Renault, and Webber took 9 Grand Prix wins for Red Bull and then became a World Endurance Champion in 2015. Daniel Ricciardo, a Red Bull Junior, made his race debut for HRT at Silverstone in 2011 in preparation for his Toro Rosso drive in 2012. Now he is one of the hottest properties on the grid, potentially one of the sport’s greatest current drivers.
Pascal Wehrlein is Mercedes’ next star, along with Esteban Ocon. These guys both started out with Manor. They wouldn’t have made it on 2016’s grid had the team not existed.
The list could go on. Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa with Sauber. These small teams are vital to the sport. They allow the best upcoming drivers to show what they are capable of in often below-par machinery, and when these teams achieve the success that Bianchi did in Monaco and Wehrlein in Austria last year, it is truly heartwarming. Webber’s 5th place in Australia 2002 perhaps being one of the greatest example of a true underdog performance in a plucky little team. It is also truly unfair to call these teams ‘backmarkers’. This implies they are just there to be slow and drive around at the back, but they aren’t! These guys slave away to be the best and many a team has started as a ‘backmarker’ before coming good – Williams, Red Bull, Force India – It belittles the effort they all make to compete in the sport. Small teams are a breath of fresh air compared to the coldness of the big manufacturer times. It is vital that F1 can keep its current crop intact.
Manor provided some great moments in their time and allowed some incredible talent to progress further in Formula 1. They will be missed, and should be on the grid in 2017 as it finally looked like a breakthrough year.