Formula One could shrink to 10 teams this season after Manor, the sport’s smallest and least successful outfit, went into administration on Friday with more than 200 jobs at risk.
The British-based team, who entered Formula One in 2010 and previously competed as Virgin and Marussia, are now in a race against time to find new investors to stave off collapse.
FRP Advisory LLP said in a statement they had been appointed administrators to the team’s operating company Just Racing Services Ltd (JRSL).
Manor Grand Prix Racing Ltd, the sister company which holds the rights to participate in the championship, is not in administration.
“During recent months, the senior management team has worked tirelessly to bring new investment to the team to secure its long term future, but regrettably has been unable to do so within the time available,” said joint administrator Geoff Rowley.
“Therefore, they have been left with no alternative but to place JRSL into administration.”
The team, who used Mercedes engines last year, employ 212 staff at their Banbury headquarters. Rowley said all were paid in full to the end of December and no redundancies had been made so far.
The season starts in Melbourne at the Australian Grand Prix on March 26, with the first pre-season test scheduled for the end of February.
“The team’s participation will depend on the outcome of the administration process and any related negotiations with interested parties in what is a very limited window of opportunity,” Rowley said.
Manor are owned by Stephen Fitzpatrick, who runs the Independent British energy supplier Ovo and rescued the team at the 11th hour in 2014 after they went into administration as Marussia.
He told reporters at the season-ending Abu Dhabi race in November that talks with an unnamed investor were at an advanced stage, with terms agreed.
Sources close to the team indicated, however, that efforts to sell the team suffered a huge blow after the Brazilian Grand Prix at which Sauber leapfrogged them in the standings.
That result knocked Manor down to last place overall and slashed millions off their share of television revenues, making them less attractive to would-be purchasers.
Fitzpatrick also stands to lose millions on his investment, with a team like Manor costing between $40-50 million per season to run and any potential investor unlikely to offer much.
The failing Lotus team were sold to Renault for just one pound at the end of 2015.
Manor currently have no confirmed drivers, with French rookie Esteban Ocon moving to Force India at the end of last season and Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein set for a switch to Sauber.
The team’s demise would spell the end for any hopes that Brazilian Felipe Nasr and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, discarded by Sauber and Haas respectively, have of being on the grid in Melbourne.