Roberto Merhi, Pons, Formula Renault 3.5 testing, Jerez, 2015

Roberto Merhi to make F1 race debut for Manor

2015 F1 season

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Roberto Merhi, Pons, Formula Renault 3.5 testing, Jerez, 2015Manor has confirmed Roberto Merhi will make his F1 race debut in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

The team said Merhi will drive for them in “the opening rounds” of the 2015 campaign.

“I am incredibly excited to be making my Formula One debut with Manor Marussia F1 Team in Melbourne this weekend,” said Merhi. “It is a big responsibility but I feel ready to make this step in my career and to show that I can make an important contribution to developing a team.”

The 23-year-old from Benicassim won the European Formula Three championship in 2011. Following an unsuccessful two-year spell in the DTM he returned to single-seater racing last year and fought Carlos Sainz Jnr for the Formula Renault 3.5 title until the final round of the championship.

Merhi also raced against new team mate Will Stevens in the series. Last Wednesday Merhi was confirmed for a second year in the category with the Pons team.

Manor has also announced Jordan King as their development driver. King, who will race in GP2 this year, is the son of the team’s interim chairman Justin King.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 66 comments on “Roberto Merhi to make F1 race debut for Manor”

    1. A good choice for the team, and it’s not entirely pointless for him either if he will keep his FR3.5 seat for the season as well.

      1. *when I wrote that it didn’t say yet it’s only for the opening rounds

      2. I guess it means that he is indeed doing his previously agreed full season of FR3.5 @honocsi.

      3. He has commented something along the lines of probably being in the car until they sign someone with a budget to the “El Confidencial” newspaper – translation into English from Motorsport.com :

        Merhi said he is not bringing any financial backing to Manor, so he is unsure how long the deal will last.
        “I raced with them in Formula Three, and they called me directly, not through my new manager, Mark Blundell,” Merhi told Spain’s El Confidencial.
        “I don’t have money and from what I understand Manor is looking for someone with a budget, and if they don’t find it I don’t know what they will do.
        “The World Series [deal] doesn’t stop me from racing.”

    2. I like how both of their drivers have been announced, their trucks are en-route to Melbourne, everything is set… and we still don’t even know how their car looks like.

      1. I was thinking about that today actually. Is there a chance they haven’t even painted the livery and it’s going to be racing in unpainted carbon fibre?

      2. There have been several images of manors build up in the garages for a day now. Check the internet.

      3. Keith posted a picture of the car being built up in today’s roundup @reiter (its from twitter – https://twitter.com/F1PaddockPass/status/575051902276206593)

        1. That would be quite cool and almost retro looking if they just turned up with an unpainted carbon fiber car and just slapped the sponsors they have (if any) on the car to keep the sponsors happy.

          1. @gremlinwon I wouldn’t look retro,. It’d just be plain HRT :)

            1. @davidnotcoulthard
              Haha, quite true, at which point it would make a statement of how pointless their return is when they could have joined back in with Haas next season. I don’t like their return.
              I don’t like it because they failed once… It’s going to happen again and if it doesnt they will never make points again after killing their only point scoring driver. And in my eyes Jules is dead… If i was in his state I’d ask for the plug to be pulled on the machine.
              On a more happy note I can’t wait for Haas to join as he knows how a race team works.

            2. @gremlinwon Wow.

              I think you’ll find Jules is still alive. However remote the chances of any sort of recovery, there is at least a chance. Whilst what happened to Jules was terrible, we should be grateful that it wasn’t worse and show respect to him, his family and the team. Keep your thoughts to yourself.

              Likewise, any proper fan of the sport sees Manor’s return to the grid as a huge victory, against huge odds. They’re going to have a very difficult season but I’m glad they will be having a season at all.

              Life is more enjoyable when you look for the positives in things, I promise you.

            3. Second of all @gremlinwon , they didn’t kill anybody…

              That has to be one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve ever read.

            4. @gremlinwon Blame the FIA/FOM safety procedures for that crash, not Bianchi/Marussia… it’s basic risk management not to have heavy tractors where cars naturally spin off – see Brundle 1994. No lessons learned.

      4. Hope they can find the right size seat belts and it doesn’t result in a “reckless and dangerous” situation using a new driver at short notice, as this “would result in an unacceptable risk of physical harm or even death” as there isinsufficient time to adapt one of their chassis to suit him.

        (likewise a Sauber lawyer said over Giedo van der Garde)

        1. @bookoi @djdaveyp87

          Looking back at my comment it came across in a very different light.
          I think manor should have waited until Haas join thats my opinion that im allowed to have.
          However my statement of Jules was very wrong and am sorry for it. After further reading on his situation I was wrong, I hadn’t read much more into it, the last I read of it was that it was a technical and driver error. However I am wrong and will stand corrected, don’t get me wrong I have full respect for Jules and his family. However it is not realistic to say we will see Jules racing again ever I don’t think. which is a huge shame as he had such potential.
          Once again sorry for the somewhat outrageous comment on my behalf.

    3. Yeeeeah! I predicted it :D!!!

      Great spanish driver, this year in Australia we’ll see three Spanish drivers. Cool

      1. RealityCheck
        10th March 2015, 0:32

        Nope! One is missing because of a “strange crash”..

        1. And Merhi maybe only in Australia…
          So only Sainz though.

      2. GB (@bgp001ruled)
        10th March 2015, 1:01

        what is so cool about having so many spanish drivers?

        1. @bgp001 Probably as cool as having three British drivers…

          1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
            10th March 2015, 23:12

            @wsrgo but not as cool as having 5 german drivers in 2009!

        2. @bgp001ruled) Isn’t Alonso the only Spanish (title) winner in GP racing?

          1. Yes, he is.

        3. It’s cool for Spanish supporters (and Spanish press, seems they claim the archievement for this), but for me it’s cool because I guessed the last seat available. At least, for a few GP :)

          And, as I said, Manor will have two cars, which was doubtful don’t you think?

          1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
            10th March 2015, 23:09

            @fernanzazpi, i am with you in that it is very good that manor has to cars! it brings me hope that they stay in the sport for at least half a season! and yes, merhi seems to be good! i would say he will beat stevens.
            and yes, i have read that spanish press…

      3. @fernanzazpi Unfortunately Alonso won’t race in Melbourne remember that! Who said there ain’t no money in Spain. On the flip side all 3 might see themselves sharing the last couple rows, Merhi 19th Alo 18th and Sainz 17th, which actually doesn’t speak the truth of these 3 fine drivers.

        1. …And the trurh about their cars.

          Exactly, Alonso is missing this GP. But,c’mon it’s a good new, I was thinking Manor will be there with just one car.

      4. @peartree @billyos @fernanzazpi Maybe Alonso’s going to watch? :p

    4. For the opening rounds. I’ve also read that it may be a 1 round contract.

      Hope the #2 Manor doesn’t end up as a hire car.

      1. @jarnooo FIA allows only up to 4 drivers per season per team, probably safeguarding any health issue of the 2 appointed race drivers, which can be replaced by anyone that has the crucial 40 points, thus it won’t matter if the team has 2 back drivers that won’t drive.

        1. @jarnooo I’m still happy that he got to make his debut at least. @peartree On that note.. what chance that Jordan King will make his debut in the Singapore GP, and drive Japan, USA, Mexico and Brazil to get a superlicence for 2016?

          That might leave Merhi Russia and Abu Dhabi, unless they continue with whoever is the 4th driver when both series clash – first happens at Monaco, race 6 (so maybe 5 for Merhi and 2016 superlicence). Frijns? Which other ex-Manor drivers are floating about and good enough for F1 :P

          1. Okay Italy is the other clash… and Canada is free mid-season for a debut if Singapore is too tough to debut at.

            1. It could even be 2 engines for the main driver, 1 for each of the others, heh.

        2. @peartree

          which can be replaced by anyone that has the crucial 40 points

          The new super licence rules do not take effect until the start of the 2016 season. So the range of drivers is rather big, but they will have to do a filming day or something like it in order to be able to grant a driver a super licence (assuming said driver didn’t hold one already).

          1. @mattds You used to require 300km for a superlicence, a filming day is limited to 100.

            1. @peartree: good point, not a filming day, but still “something like it” :)
              Kvyat obtained his licence in a special test session with a 2 year old car. That would still seem a possibility.

          2. @mattds In-season testing is the favourable option. I think after a year of V6 the FIA won’t liken the idea of getting the superlicence on an irrelevant car especially with the new superlicence rule looming. I think european F3 is the way to go…

      2. I think Mehri will probably be in the car until the WSR 3.5 season starts @jarnooo.

        1. @BasCB: Formula Renault 3.5, not WSR 3.5 … Sorry, pet peeve of mine ;)

          1. Yeah, sorry.

      3. @jarnooo It is virtually certain that Mercedes will put Wehrlein in the #2 Manor so his eligible for a superlicense in 2016.

        1. @countrygent I would think King will put his son in the seat for at least 5 races as well. First let him get use to cars at GP2 level, then 5 races in the Manor seat in order to be eligible for a super licence in 2016.

          I’m not sure about Wehrlein.

      4. Kmag for round 2 onwards if Alonso is back in the McLaren?

    5. A driver with great potential and talent. Lets hope this drive doesn’t equal the same fate as Di Grassi and many other talents, wasted in uncompetitive packages…

      If the FIA is rigorous about its rules (107%), there’s a big chance he won’t even be able to race, and will be remembered as the “others” that failed to qualify in the history of the sport. And that’s a shame, because he is really talented.

      1. There’s a rumour that Marussia will only punch the ticket for Melbourne, there’s speculation that Manor-Marussia are just trying not to lose their point from Bianchi and it’s bonus, £30m. As I’ve heard if they make it so they won’t miss 2 or 3 events in a row and 3 in total, teams are entitled to their bonus. The scene is Manor makes a couple laps in Q1 and then does not dispute or ask for a leniency on the 107% rule.
        DI Grassi is a talent? I think we’ve seen what he’s been up to with Audi… crashing every hour on his stint.

        1. He (Di Grassi) beat Kubica here in Macau. No easy feat!

          As for Manor I share the same doubts. I really hope to be proven wrong.

          1. @peartree @sergio-perez And some chap called Vettel was 3rd. Time to link di Grassi with Manor 2nd seat mid-season? :D

            1. I’m sure they’d also take Stoneman and some RB money if Marko felt so inclined.

          2. @sergio-perez Da Costa won Macau with the VW engine, look where’s he now?… Scoring once ain’t gonna make you a legend.

    6. Nice to see them back for another year, but i think this year they will crumble once again; finishing last every race, finishing with no points and getting lapped twice every race.

      However, congrats to Manor on finding a way back to the grid for this season and good luck to them.

    7. Its great to see a team back on the grid, however I do worry about how they will perform, with practically nil testing.

    8. Know what? Despite what I can say about Stevens, this is not so bad a line-up. Merhi is a proved, fast driver. They don’t seem at all like a team who could collapse at any point. Great!

    9. Can you hear Stevens curse; ‘Dammit, someone fast…’

    10. Excellent choice. This was a kid whose career was effectively over a year ago, but thanks to Mercedes, and a fantastic subsidied season with the unfancied Zeta Corse squad in FR3.5, he is back on the right track. Do not be fooled by the fact that he was rather off the pace in DTM, have no doubt, Merhi is an immense talent. It is unfortunate it is not for the full season, but Wehrlein needs Grand Prix experience if he is to be eligible for a superlicense. If you compare Merhi’s DTM mediocrity with his 2014 FR3.5 form, it just shows how well DTM masks superstars, so imagine how fast race winner Wehrlein could be. Shame the FIA doesn’t think him worthy of an F1 seat…

      1. @countrygent That makes sense.. half a year of no pressure Ricciardo 2011 HRT learning for Wehrlein, before moving up to Force India and eventually replacing someone at Mercedes. No clashes with DTM from Monaco until Italy… Add Russia and Abu Dhabi for 10 GPs, leaving 5 each for Merhi/King? However, I imagine a Spain debut, after testing there pre-season, would be much easier than Monaco..

        Wehrlein, Merhi.. these are the first potential casualties of the new FIA superlicence system, which punishes poorer drivers. Why not have it as last 3 full racing seasons, instead of last 3 years? E.g. Merhi – 2011 ‘FIA F3’ winner, Wehrlein – 2012 ‘FIA F3’ runner up, set for top 2 in 2013 before switching to DTM. Merhi almost matched Ricciardo in 2008 FR2.0 WEC, age 17 vs. 19 – so definitely fast, as 2014 showed.

        Merhi: 2010 F3 – 5th (GP3 – 6th); 2011 – F3 1st; 2014 – FR3.5 3rd = 63-68 points
        Wehrlein: 2011 F4 – 1st; 2012 F3 – 2nd; 2013 – F3 (1st or 2nd) = 40-80 points

    11. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      10th March 2015, 8:47

      So far for the wild speculations that Van der Garde was trying to get money form Sauber to buy into the second Manor seat mere hours before FP1.

      1. It just gives such a deal more time to be done, say until the 2nd or 3rd race @hanswesterbeek

      2. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
        10th March 2015, 15:38

        So we can keep this up until vdG retires from racing at all? :-)

        1. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
          7th April 2015, 19:46

          … and so he did.

    12. By my counting Jordan King would currently have 20 superlicense points (Although can you race in two championships in a year?) (British F3 – 10 pnts, 6th & 7th in Euro F3 – 6 & 4 points) going into this season therefore he needs to finish 4th or higher in GP2 this season to qualify for the race seat.

      Or race the last 3 rounds of the year to qualify.

      I am actually a fan of this system although would of liked to of seen the full points (50) handed out for GP2, FR3.5, Indy Car and LMP1. Or even more in the case of Indy Car and LMP1 and considering WEC is a FIA World Championship it seems strange not to hand out more points for it :S

    13. 2014 Australian Grand Prix only produced 13 classified driver (of 22)
      with the current size of grid, if the same number of cars retired, and 2 Manors still running somehow, beating 107% rules, running reliably although getting lapped often, that would be a miracle for them to get eligible point finish.

      too long shot though, it’s more likely they fail to qualify or get DNF…
      let’s hope that Manor would be there all season (or more).

    14. Any news on the F1 timing app for 2015? Also anyone else not able to convert the race times to your local timezone? Earlier it was an easy change on the F1.com website. It seems changed now with a watch reflecting Aus/Local time based on our choice.

    15. Very good driver. Better than Stevens who isn’t bad at all as well. Their lineup is at least as good as Sauber’s IMO

    16. Pretty happy with Manor getting there to Melbourne, despite not thinking that highly of Stevens and Merhi being a bit of uncharted territory (he never really sticks out to me in any series he’s been in so far), it’s a lot better than not being there at all.

      With Manor’s statements about not needing a lot of money per se for a second driver, I’m thinking they might wait until they can run a young driver in their car that’s close to a super license in FP1 or testing with a little more experience.

    17. Duncan Snowden
      10th March 2015, 17:47

      Good line up. But “opening rounds”, eh? Is it safe to assume that means, “Until a certain Dane becomes available again”?

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