Why the Manor-Sauber fight is important

There is much interest in the battle for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship between Sauber and Manor. It is a significant fight in that this year there are 11 teams in the World Championship – thanks to the arrival of Haas – and, next year, only the top 10 will benefit from the full prize fund. For the last few years, with only 10 teams, both Sauber and Manor/Marussia qualified for both funds (known as “Columns”) in the prize fund structure.

To briefly explain: there are two equal prize funds: Column 1, which pays out 10 equal sums to the top 10 teams. In order to qualify for Column 1 payments, a team must have been in the top 10 for two of the last three seasons. Thus if Manor or Sauber is 11th this year it will still qualify for Column 1 money in 2017, but if it is 11th again in 2017, it will not.

The separate Column 2 fund is divided up on the basis of the previous year’s result only, with the World Champion team getting 19 percent of the fund, the second 16 percent, the third 13 percent, the fourth 11 percent, the fifth 10 percent, the sixth nine percent, the seventh seven percent, the eighth six percent, the ninth five percent and the 10th four percent.

Each of the Columns is made up of 23.75% of the EBITDA of Formula One World Championship Ltd. If you do the sums, this means that 10th position in Column 2 is worth $11 million, which explains why the fight is so important. It is a question of the survival of the fittest, because if Haas is again in the top 10 in 2017 it will then become a Column 1 team and will be paid at least $27.5 million (although the figure will change depending on the EBITDA) while if the 11th team is again 11th it will lose this money, in addition to having lost $11 million this year. Surviving without prize money and travel benefits (which are also included for the top 10 teams) is a real struggle. Thus, the teams at the back are not fighting for money itself but rather to try to avoid losing large sums of it… One of them is definitely going to lose $11 million, but worse may be to come.