Manor boss Booth: Le Mans and WEC saved me from quitting sport

Former Manor Formula 1 boss John Booth has told Motorsport.com he was ready to quit motorsport after his association with the team ended last year.

Together with Graeme Lowdon, Booth left the Manor F1 squad at the end of last year after leading the Banbury outfit through multiple difficult periods. 

But in early February, Booth and Lowdon announced that they will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship this year with a LMP2 team, under the Manor banner. 

Speaking at the WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard, Booth said his enthusiasm for racing was rekindled after discussing the idea of entering a car in Le Mans and WEC.

“At the end of last year I was very tired of motorsport”, Booth told Motorsport.com. “I pretty much made up my mind to retire.

"I was chatting with Graeme Lowdon over the Christmas period, realising that neither of us had ever done Le Mans before. So we said to ourselves: ‘Why not? Let’s go and do Le Mans’.

“And along with Le Mans it also made sense to do the WEC series as well. The more we looked into it, the more it became an obvious decision.

“I was just physically and mentally tired after six years of F1, struggling at almost every race. Last year was particularly tough, for obvious reasons.” 

F1 exit

Both Booth and Lowdon left the Manor F1 team amid disagreements with its new owners about the long-term plans.

“I don’t want to dwell on it at all, really”, Booth said about his departure. “I don’t look backwards. I actually got my enthusiasm back for racing.

“I was really psyched this week to get the car out. It was like going back 20 years. It was fantastic.

“I don’t want to look back at all, just look forward and go out and do our best and try and win some races again.”  

WEC sparks new future

Booth says his Manor team is well suited to the WEC paddock.

“You see people enjoying themselves here”, he said. “I spoke to Mark Webber this morning and he seems to really enjoy his racing.

“WEC is going from strength to strength. The quality of the drivers is getting better and better, the quality of the teams is getting better and better. It’s a great place to be.”

The final decision to join the WEC fray was taken around the end of January, Booth revealed: “So that didn’t leave ourselves much time. Luckily we got a good line-up of drivers pretty quickly.

“Oreca really pulled out all the stops to get us a car here at the Prologue. If we got another engine in time, it would have been two cars here at the Prologue.

“Oreca has been absolutely fantastic, so helpful. So have been the championship organisers. They made us feel so welcome. They couldn’t have been more helpful.”

Putting miles on the car

Booth admits that there’s not enough time to be fully prepared for the season opener at Silverstone.

“No, clearly not,” he said. “Today we started to do a little bit of performance work but the main thing is to get some miles on the car and start to understand it. Both our race engineers have worked with the car before so that makes life a little bit easier.

“We need to understand the car and then hopefully we are ready to start pushing performance when we are in Silverstone. But there’s no way we can be fully prepared. It would be lying if we said we were.

“But I think we will be challenging for the podium at Silverstone, even though we are not prepared.”

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About this article
Series WEC
Event Prologue
Track Circuit Paul Ricard
Drivers John Booth
Teams Manor Motorsport
Article type Interview