“I never had any ambitions to be in Formula 1, purely because it was so out of reach. The FIA, in their wisdom, quite rightly decided to introduce some sort of cost restriction. At the same time as making Formula 1 more affordable for its current competitors, it opened up our own horizons and that of other teams.”
John Booth’s journey to F1 team management has been pretty surreal since a trip to Silverstone in 1977 saw his career veer dramatically off-course.
Pretty soon, John was racing on the circuits of northern England in Formula Ford. Just two years later he won his first race at Oulton Park and was mixing it with the big guns, including the late, great Ayrton Senna.
“Ayrton was obviously a lot quicker than me, but I did get within 0.03 secs of his qualifying time at Donington once. On race day I lined up on the front row of the grid alongside the legend himself.
John hung up his racing gloves in 1989 but the racing spirit was still alive and kicking. What do to with all that pent-up adrenaline?
His next challenge was team ownership and in 1990 Manor Motorsport went racing in Formula Renault. The results came rolling in. Three wins in the first season were followed by championship wins in ’91, ’94, ’97, ’98 and ’99.
When the team switched to Formula 3 in 1999, they won the championship at the first attempt.
If you win championships, you attract the best drivers. Manor Motorsport did just that. Former F1 Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton are among the outstanding talents of their generation to graduate from the ‘John Booth School of Excellence’.
Manor Motorsport became one of the very best teams in national and international motor racing. As for F1, John had no aspirations whatsoever: “How could I? It was so out of reach”. Then in early ’09 the FIA, Formula 1’s governing body, decided to address the current levels of spend in the sport and introduced cost-cutting measures that would open the door to four new contenders.
To cut a long and emotional story far too short, the unassuming Yorkshireman became the proud owner of a Formula 1 team entry. “I was at a race meeting with our Manor Motorsport boys when I got the call. Everyone was just gobsmacked. It was an incredible and emotional moment; one I’ll never forget.”
Since then, John’s foot has been hard on the gas, navigating the team through the challenging first years of Formula 1 competition.
Born in Rotherham, Yorkshire, in the North of England
Discovered motor sport while enjoying the Kosset Six Hour Endurance Race at Silverstone
First glory moment in a race car - a win at Oulton Park in a Formula Ford
Driver turns team boss - founded Manor Motorsport and entered the Formula Renault Championship
Moved into Formula 3 - won the Championship first time out
Entered the F3 Euroseries
Secured one of four new Formula 1 team entries
March 14 2010
The dream becomes a reality as John’s race team line up on the grid in Bahrain
Second season of Formula One racing, competing as Marussia Virgin Racing
Now racing as Marussia F1 Team, John embarks on his third season as a Formula One Team Principal