LONDON, England - The stricken Marussia Formula 1 team is set to come out of administration with former Sainsbury's supermarket boss Justin King linked on Wednesday (Feb 4) to a rescue bid that could put it on the 2015 grid in Melbourne in March.
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS: Marussia could soon be racing again - though it's possible other teams could block its return in Melbourne if its 2014 cars have to be used. Shutterstock.
Administrators FRP Advisory said Marussia planned to come out of administration on February 19 via a "company voluntary arrangement" agreed to by its creditors.
Geoff Rowley, a joint administrator, said: "It is envisaged that, before the start of the first race of the 2015 season, investment into the business will be made."
FORMER PRINCIPAL BACK?
A CVA is a restructuring process that, Rowley said, would allow "a turnaround of the business and the creation of a longer-term viable solution".
None of the investors was named but Sky News' TV's city editor Mark Kleinman reported that King, who stepped down as European supermarket chain Sainsbury's chief executive in 2014, was part of a consortium bidding for the team. His son Jordan was British F3 champion in 2013 and is due to step up to F1's GP2 feeder series during 2015.
The group was also said to include Marussia's former principal John Booth and chief executive Graeme Lowdon.
Kleinman quoted an unnamed source as saying the plan was "to revive a high-quality British racing ethic and brand name".
Marussia, whose F1 entry is under the name of Manor Grand Prix Racing, went into administration in October 2014 after being overwhelmed by debt. Despite having the smallest budget of any team, it scored two points in Monaco with French driver Jules Bianchi and finished ninth in the championship - a placing that brings significant prize money and revenue.
AUCTION OF CARS
Bianchi was critically injured in the October 2014 Japanese GP and remains in hospital, with Marussia missing the last three races of 2014.
Hopes of reviving the team were raised in January 2015 after an auction of its cars and trackside equipment was postponed to allow talks with a potential investor.
Marussia was one of two teams that folded in 2014; tail-end rival Caterham missed two races but returning for the finale. Rowley said negotiations had been under way since October 2014 to try to secure the team's survival.
However, is a view that the Marussia's comeback could be thwarted. Ralf Bach, F1 correspondent for Sport Bild and TZ Munchen, said the comeback bid could falter on a simple detail - Manor's lack of a 2015 car. On his blog f1-insider.com, Bach said the other teams would need to unanimously agree to allow Manor to field its 2014 car this year.
Five teams are already opposed, he claimed.
"I cannot imagine that we would agree," confirmed Red Bull's Helmut Marko. "That's also the case for our second team, Toro Rosso."
Bach said Force India, Sauber and Lotus were also believed to share Marko's stance.
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