New rules consign Red Bull ace to pit-lane start; only 17 drivers in Austin qualifying

London - Formula One's embarrassments go from bad to worse. American fans will be wondering who will be the last man standing at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, when the race is held at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend.

After the grid lost four cars belonging to Marussia and Caterham, who were put into administration because of their financial woes, it seems that the rule book will knock one of the biggest names out.

Sebastian Vettel, winner of the US Grand Prix and the world championship last year, will be forced to sit out qualifying because of the sport's complex new rules. He is likely to start the race from pit lane because he has been forced to use a sixth engine, one more than the legal limit.

Americans who already believe that F1 is strangled by red tape will wonder how they turn up to see the best in the world and yet will witness a hurried revamp to accommodate all of the missing cars. It is thought that the FIA, the governing body, will have to reorder the three-session qualifying because there are not enough cars - just 17 with Vettel missing - to go through the usual knockout sequence.

Vettel's delayed appearance will only add to the red faces of the F1 establishment, whose greatest motor racing show on earth is looking decidedly like a threadbare circus in one of the world's most critical motor sports markets.

Administrators moved formally to run Marussia yesterday after the team joined Caterham, their neighbours, in the financial mire. The 130 Marussia staff have been paid for this month and there are no redundancies planned while Geoff Rowley, the joint administrator and a partner at FRP Advisory, attempts to sell off the business.

There was never any chance of them making it to Austin for the US Grand Prix, though.

"With the Marussia F1 team in administration, the joint administrators have assessed that, given the financial circumstances of the group, it is not viable for the Marussia F1 team to participate in the next race," Rowley said.

Speculation is growing that there may be buyers on the horizon. Unlike Caterham, which went into administration last week, Marussia were on the up and within reach of securing ninth place in the constructors' standings, their highest placing in five seasons. The reward would be £40 million (S$82.3 million) in prize money - if they can survive into next season.

Time is short and the administrators will want to find new investors rapidly. It is thought that Marussia may be about £30 million (S$61.6 million) in debt, including money owed to Ferrari for engine supply this season.