The last two Formula One seasons have been a struggle for the Manor Racing team. Formerly known as Marussia, the team only survived administration in late 2014, due to the magic of the late Jules Bianchi scoring the team’s first points in Monaco. Ex-Team Principal John Booth said that the two points and estimated $30 million saved the team.
With the realization that 2015 was always going to be a struggle especially with a modified 2014 chassis, and the poor Ferrari Power Unit offering from that year, the team focussed mainly on gelling together and practising operations in preparation for their relaunch.
However, John Booth and Greame Lowdon, both instrumental in saving the team and getting them back racing last year have both left the team, citing differences with owner Stephen King.
Designer John McQuilliam and his team produced a very solid and respectable chassis, the MRT05 and new drivers Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto have quickly settled into their new surroundings. Dave Ryan, the veteran former McLaren team manager has been recruited along with Ex-Ferrari personal Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis. Securing a class leading supply of Mercedes PU’s and a Williams gearbox and rear-end, the team were immediately no-longer going to be back-markers.
What we can expect from Manor?
The team’s only goal in 2016, has to be to finish in front of newcomers Haas, for a top 10 finish in the constructors. Financially this will be crucial for the team. Looking at how the two compared after Barcelona testing, it should be a close battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
At places like Montreal, Red Bull-Ring, and Monza the team should be in contention for big points, due to the need for outright grunt. With the impressive technical team that have been assembled at Banbury and their improved performance, they were 5.5 seconds quicker at Barcelona than in Qualifying for the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix, they could be the surprise story of the season…
German Pascal Wehrlein, the reigning DTM champion is one for the future. A very composed, consistent and smooth driver, he is de-facto team-leader and the team will be hoping his experience as Mercedes reserve will help them develop the car effectively.
With tensions between the Mercedes duo expected to rise again, could a strong season put Wehrlein in contention to drive the Silver Arrow in 2017?
Indonesian Rio Haryanto, after plugging away in GP2 with varying success, has a lot riding on his shoulders. Government funded, he will be hoping to put pressure on his teammate. An inauspicious start to his career included a couple of spins, but he soon settled in and pumped in some consistent times in testing.
After a strong GP2 campaign, after four years of average results, Haryanto will be hoping that he can build on his success’s last year at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Their season in one sentence
Will Pascal be the Man or will it be Rio in 2016?