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Mercedes boss describes departure of Manor's Booth and Lowdon as "a blow"

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Mercedes boss describes departure of Manor's Booth and Lowdon as "a blow"
Oct 30, 2015, 11:20 PM

"Manor means John Booth and John Booth means Manor," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff today, when reflecting on the fact that the Manor team principal...

"Manor means John Booth and John Booth means Manor," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff today, when reflecting on the fact that the Manor team principal John Booth and sporting director Graeme Lowdon have resigned from the minnow Formula 1 outfit on the eve of the Mexican Grand Prix. Wolff recently signed an engine supply deal with the team for 2016.

He added: "Graeme was also instrumental in keeping them in the sport. So seeing them leave the team, from a sporting standpoint is obviously a blow. We have signed a deal with Manor and we need to give credit to everyone who stays in the team, but we are curious spectators from now on."

Reports suggest that Booth and Lowdon have grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s owner, businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick and the feeling appears to be mutual.

XPB.cc Will Stevens Manor

Booth founded Manor Motorsport in 1990 and the team entered cars in Formula Renault, British Formula 3 and the F3 Euroseries championship, all of which it entered with Lewis Hamilton, as the British driver climbed the junior ranks.

The team successfully gained an F1 entry in 2009 alongside HRT and Caterham (formerly known as 1 Malaysia Racing and Lotus) before it was re-named Virgin Racing. The squad became Marussia after just one season in F1 but the Russian company’s owner Andrei Cheglakov abandoned the team towards the end of 2014 and it went into administration.

Booth and Lowdon fought hard to rescue the team over the winter and eventually Fitzpatrick, founder of the energy firm Ovo, bought the team and invested £30m ahead of the new season. The squad kept the Marussia moniker to claim its share of the F1 prize money but had to be given special dispensation to run a 2014 engine and updated chassis to contest the 2015 season.

XPB.cc Alexander Rossi Manor

Although the team has remained firmly at the back of the grid, Manor’s fortunes were thought to be on the up when the squad announced it had secured a supply of Mercedes engines for its new car in 2016 and a technical partnership with Williams.

Speaking at the time that deal was revealed, Booth said: “Although [this year] we have not been able to make the incremental strides in competitiveness that the team has enjoyed in previous seasons, we have put in place a strong foundation from which to progress.

“Together with the potential we are seeing with our 2016 car in the wind tunnel, the Mercedes-Benz power unit will assist our return to aggressive performance development with effect from next season.”

XPB.cc Graeme Lowdon John Booth Manor

But today’s reports suggest that Booth and Lowdon no longer see eye-to-eye with Fitzpatrick, relating to the direction the team should take in the future, and felt they had no choice but to resign.

Both Booth and Lowdon are understood to be continuing in their roles for this weekend’s race but have so far refused to comment on the situation.

Sources close to the team suggest that next year's 2016 design is expected to be substantially faster with the 2016 Mercedes engines compared to this season, where the car is basically the 2014 chassis with a 2014 Ferrari engine.

A step of around 2.8 seconds per lap is projected, apparently.

Fitzpatrick will need to employ a management group capable of running an F1 outfit and capitalising on the potential of the new package. The team employs Bob Bell as a consultant. He ran the Renault F1 team, but he appears to have other plans and will also leave the team.
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