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GP Week : Issue 53
and the chemistry seemed to gel pretty quickly,”he explains. “We met through a mutual friend and it all went from there. We knew the criteria would be pretty tough and we just worked hard to make sure that we could meet the criteria. I think that’s what got us in. We pretty much ticked all of the boxes. “The secret is that we have a race team in place, or at least the bare bones of a race team, and with Nick we have an absolutely fantastic facility and some brilliant people down there with experience of designing and building a whole range of racing cars.” The more you speak to John, the more you realise how important the role of Nick Wirth is to the entire project. “His role is everything,”John states. “Our situation is slightly different to Campos and Dallara, because Nick is a major shareholder in Manor Grand Prix. He is part 30 of the team so it’s not on a customer basis. He’s very much part of the team and I think the misconception is that because it’s called Manor we’re employing Nick to design the car, but ManorGP is a totally new entity and Nick’s very much a part of it.” Nick Wirth himself began his motorsport career at March before moving over to Leyton House in the late 1980s. From there he, along with long-time friend and associate Max Mosley, created Simtek Research, and from it was born the Simtek Formula 1 Team. Simtek’s existence was short and controversial, with its 1994 S941’s ultimate safety called into question following the tragic death of Roland Ratzenberger at that year’s San Marino Grand Prix. When Simtek went into liquidation, Wirth was called up by Benetton and between 1996 and 1999 sat as Chief Designer at the team. In recent years Wirth has been involved with the FIA in its CDG wing development project and has also become heavily involved in prototype sportscar racing, working with Acura on their LMP1 project for the American Le Mans Series. With Manor able to call on Wirth’s experience and facilities, a huge chunk of what it takes to set up a new F1 team is taken care of: “It is absolutely a cost saver,”he agrees “It makes it viable. To start from scratch, to build an F1 production factory would be impossible. It’s hard enough building a team from scratch to run a Formula 1 car, let alone to design and build one. All manufacturing and production will be based at Wirth Research in Bicester, and assembly and the running of the team will be here at Dinnington in South Yorkshire.” What’s more, John says, Manor’s first F1