John Booth  Great Britain

  • Full name John Booth
  • Birth date December 18, 1954
  • Birthplace Sheffield, Great Britain
  • Current age 62 years 336 days
  • Teams Virgin
  • Other roles Principal
driver portrait

John Booth epitomises grassroots motorsports and admitted when he got into Formula One: "I've never had any ambitions to be in F1, purely because it was so out of reach." However, the son of a Sheffield butcher - who looked destined from an early age to follow in the family business - is responsible for one of the most successful junior teams of the past 20 years and now the Marussia F1 team.

He started out as a racing driver in Formula Ford and even lined up on the front row of the grid alongside Ayrton Senna in his early career. However, he never progressed beyond junior series and in 1990 gave up racing and set up Manor Motorsports. The outfit started out in Formula Renault and won titles in 1991, 1994 and 1997 before making the switch to Formula 3 in 1999.

Remarkably Manor won the highly-competitive British F3 title at its first attempt with Marc Hynes driving for Booth. More success came in the following years and big name drivers such as Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton passed through Manor's ranks on their way to Formula One.

In 2009 Booth applied alongside Nick Wirth's research company for a place in Formula One, based on plans for new cost-cutting measures. Manor was successful and bagged itself a place in the 2010 championship alongside Campos, USF1 and Lotus.

Manor then attracted Virgin as a shareholder and Booth used their investment to pay Wirth for the development of the car and setting up the team. But not everything went smoothly; Virgin's Alex Tai was initially team principal but left before the start of the season to be replaced by Booth. It then emerged that the car did not have a large enough fuel tank to complete a race distance and the team was left red-faced. Towards the end of the season the problems were ironed out but Virgin still finished at the very bottom of the constructors' championship.

In November 2010 Russian sportscar maker Marussia bought into the team, taking over the stake that was previously held by the Lloyds Banking Group. The investment was good news for the team but also created higher expectations for 2011, and with the team failing to make much progress the Wirth partnership was terminated.

For 2012 the team was rebranded Marussia. While a McLaren link-up hinted at an opportunity to make progress, the new car wasn't ready in time for pre-season testing and despite still managing to qualify for the opening race of the season it faces an uphill battle to close the gap to Caterham.

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