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British-Indian billionaire brothers eye buying F1 Marussia team from its Russian owner

October 27, 2014, 14:02 UTC+3 LONDON
If the deal passes through the two brothers would also inherit Marussia’s current debt of about €38 million, believed to be owed by the team to Ferrari for their engines this season
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LONDON, October 27. /TASS/. Formula One team Marussia, based in Britain and owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Cheglakov, is eyed for the purchase by British-Indian brothers Baljinder Sohi and Sonny Kaushal at a reported sum of €70 million (almost $89 million), The Telegraph daily reported on Monday.

According to the daily, the two brothers, who made their fortune in the steel industry, were for the last three weeks in talks with Andy Webb, the chief executive of the beleaguered team, to buy Marussia and save it from collapsing into administration.

Sohi told the daily that both sides were apart by some €12.7 million  in their evaluations of the deal to save the 190 staff of the team, which announced last week that it would miss two next GPs in Austin and Sao Paolo.

“We are very close to a deal,” The Telegraph quoted Sohi as saying. “But it has to be the right price. We have put in a serious offer and we will see what happens.”

According to the daily, if the deal passes through the two brothers would also inherit Marussia’s current debt of about €38 million, believed to be owed by the team to Ferrari for their engines this season.

Formula One racing is facing a financial crisis at the moment as two teams will not be competing in the next Grand Prix on November 2 in the United States and then in Brazil’s Sao Paolo on November 9.

Team Catterham announced late last week that it had been placed into administration and the next day team Marussia said it had not enough money to fly the team to the United States and then Brazil. Both teams may be considered relatively young as they joined the F1 racing starting from 2010.

The Telegraph reported last week that all F1 teams’ cars and freight were flown to the United States on Friday by air transport, which was organized by F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone. But the 83-year-old F1 supremo said, “Neither of those two teams are going to go to America.”

Eventually, the starting grid of the US GP over the coming weekend will consist of 18 cars only, which will be for the first time in almost 10 years. The 18-car starting grid was last time registered in 2005 at the Monaco Grand Prix, where BAR team was banned from the race due to infringements on technical regulations.

Menwhile, Andrey Cheglakov, a Russian billionaire owner of British-based Marussia, announced on Monday the end to his sponsorship support of the team.

According to the businessman, the decision to part with the team was made soon after Russia’s inaugural F1 Grand Prix in Sochi earlier in the month.

“This is a sad note but it takes place against the background of the outstanding Grand Prix, which was held for the first time ever in my country,” Cheglakov told TASS. “I would like to express my words of gratitude to the each member of the team both on the racing track and at the base in Banbury. They all nobly work over the edge of their abilities.

Team Marussia was also rocked by a tragic crash of one of its pilots at the Japanese Grand Prix early this month.

October 5 rain-affected F1 race in Japan’s Suzuka was concluded earlier by the decision of FIA officials after French pilot Jules Bianchi, 25, from Marussia team crashed into the back of a tractor, which was clearing debris in a run-off area from a previous incident. The French pilot was seriously injured and, while unconscious, taken to a hospital in Japan.

Team Marussia reported in its statement two weeks ago, “Jules remains in a critical but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi."

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