Correia Racing

Correia Racing the unknown Portuguese F1 project

Unraced 2010 - 2019

In late 2016 Manor Racing went into bankruptcy. While the team did everything to stay on the grid, the team already completed the design of the MRT06. There was a bit of hope left that a new team would take over their place on the grid. A few former Manor Racing employees came with the idea to start their own team. At this point Correia Racing was born. It had to be an all-Portuguese Formula 1 team. Eventually it was planned to debut in 2022.

What is the link with Manor Racing exactly with Correia Racing? João Correia was one of the employees at Manor. He was on one of the photos that were released of the MRT06 wind tunnel model. Yes the team name is leant from his family name. João is not unknown for me. He provided me a lot of information regarding the Manor MRT06. Before he ended up in the Formula 1 João Correia used to work in the Formula Renault after he became an aeronautical engineer with a PhD in aerodynamics. Later on he worked in the A1GP, World Series by Renault, ALMS, ELMS, Formula E before he came to work for Manor Racing.  To return to the Formula E.

Rui Pinto was involved as well with Correia Racing. Currently working in the Supply Chain Logistics for a privateer in the healthcare sector in the United Kingdom. Rui would take the roll of commercial director. His role was to find new partners to sponsor the team. Pinto saw most of the times the positivity of a project. When he saw the budget that was needed to set up Correia Racing he said “Let’s do it!”

Probably you haven’t heard before from this F1 project.  Only this year the information came out. When Autosport Portugal Magazine published an article about it with João. Later republished the story on their website. Why there wasn’t published any information before? João explained to me that they didn’t want to be the next Stefan GP, as example, which ended ill-fated. If you reach out big in the media, and eventually you fail, the chance is huge that your own reputation will be affected by it.

As well João and Rui were more or less the opposite of each other, where João is more reserved and looking after, Rui is the guy who saw the potential in everything. Basically this attempt to set up a Formula 1 team was a bet to see if it was possible to reach the budget which was needed for the team. Besides the bet, the idea was to show the world that it was possible to set up a team in the Formula one with their base in Portugal.  Similar to the idea of Copersucar Fittipaldi back in the 1970s. Or Ligier that started as an all French Formula One team.

They started with Correia Racing in 2017,dividing the road to the Formula one in four phases.  Needed of course to get approval from the FIA. This was mostly done for the financial picture. Besides the phases they created a team’s presentation and several merchandise. To gain more attention from the fans the plan was to create a documentary with 18 episodes, showing the road to Formula One. As well plans were made for recruitments.   So how did those phases look like?

As it works out for many projects in any business form, there has to be a solid business case. This is what the FIA asks as well from groups who are interested to enter the Formula 1.  Most interesting is the guarantee that the team will be competitive, has a technical capability to create and build their own car.

Phase 1:              The budget is the priority to set up a new team in the Formula 1. In phase one the goal is to reach 25-30% of the budget needed. Meetings were planned with four interested partners.  Important in this phase is the timing and defined for the goals.  The intention was to ensure a return of investment, equal or greater than 40% of the budget in 3 months.
Phase 2:              For phase 2 a goal was set for 60-70% of the needed budget.  While expanding the contact with eventually new partners to support the team. While it is necessary to ensure the return of 100% of the budget. They gave themselves 9 months.

Phase 3:              The goal was to reach 85-90% of the budget needed. If it was reached the talks with the FIA and eventually Liberty Media could be started to have the team in the Formula One. Talks with suppliers would take place as well. In this state it is more likely a matter of time all of the budget will be available.
Phase 4:              Enough partners would have been found to secure the budget needed to enter the Formula One. It would bring Correia Racing in the position to formalize the application for the FIA.

Sadly Correia Racing would not reach the phases. It seemed particularly hard to find enough partners that were interested to invest in the team. The team continued to go into phase two. The partners so far were very positive. It’s a good reason to go to phase two. Even though it would be hard. One of the reasons they could not find many partners came due their regional search. They only searched in Portugal for partners.  Though, no specified date was set, as you could read early 2022 was mentioned as date with several partners. Due the new technical regulations in 2021. Keep in mind a team that starts from scratch has no back up of historical back ground to look at.

The partners were told they only had to proceed with the payments as soon Correia Racing would go to the FIA to apply the team. Payments would have been made to have the entry in the championship be proceed.

The meetings that had happened with potential partners were to promote the project. Partners with a big network would work out pretty fine. As they could spread the word of the All-Portuguese F1 team. As already said a documentary with 18 episodes would be made of their journey to the Formula 1.

It is well known that the FIA is very strict about applications. Perhaps you remember the applicants back in 2009 for the 2010 season. Four spots were available on the grid. HRT, Caterham and Manor were three teams that manage to appear on the grid. USF1 actually failed hard, they only came up with a toaster before the project folded. Today the FIA looks even behind the financial situation of the team. They will look as well at the structure of the team and their capability to create their own car.

Looking at the possibilities to produce the parts needed to build up the team. Correia Racing would be able to use companies in Portugal to build the parts. The aim for Correia Racing was to produce most of the metallic components in Portugal. Though some parts had to be made outside Portugal. Like the wheel and dampers. As well the composite material would be made outside Portugal the first year.

The team eventually had several options to set up their factory in Portugal. Though most interesting would be near the Algarve track. It was also one of the spots the team was looking for. An support office in the United Kingdom for Correia Racing was on the long term agenda as well be established eventually.

As the idea of Correia Racing came after the defunct of Manor Racing I asked João if there was at any stage the intention to use the existing Manor Racing structure and fundament.  He told me that it would not be a option to use. As they needed at least six months to set up the plans. The auction of Manor Racing was not that long after the team went in administration. And as João said himself. The new teams from 2010 mostly started in the UK and we saw how hard the struggled to keep afloat in the Formula one. They also had problems in attracting sponsors.

While Portugal hosted several times a Grand Prix in the 1950s and 1960s at Boavista and Monsanto. In the 1980s and 1990s the Portuguese Grand Prix was hosted at Estoril. As well several Portuguese drivers raced in the Formula 1. Most recently Tiago Monteiro and Pedro Lamy. However, Correia Racing is one of the few attempts to enter the Formula One as constructor.

I’m aware of only one attempt in the periode after the war, there are a couple during the 1910s and 1920s. Marinho was announced in 1974 / 1975. Bravo Marinho, engineer José Megre and mechanic João Pereira were behind this attempt. In those days there were plenty “kit cars” in the Formula One. This would be a similar one. In auto hebdo several articles appeared during the years. However the team never materialised due the fact that BIP bank was naturalised. The drawing shown had similarities Ferrari 312T2.

Probably within few days the old twitter account of CorreiaRacing will be active again. You can ask your questions than if you have them.