The team formerly known as Virgin and Marussia has undergone more than one overhaul in its short lifespan. But the latest is the most drastic yet as founder John Booth and right-hand-man Graeme Lowden have departed.
New owner Stephen Fitzpatrick has secured a coveted supply of latest-specification Mercedes power units. With the team sourcing gearboxes and other rear-end components from Williams, the MRT05 is built on a platform which should prove the most competitive this team has ever had.
The team has shored up its technical side by hiring major names previously seen at F1’s top teams. Long-time McLaren man Dave Ryan is joined by ex-Ferrari designers Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis, however their input into the recently-completed MRT05 will have been minimal.
Last year Manor were merely going through the motions with a reworked 2014 chassis and year-old Ferrari power unit which left them 5-7% off the pace of the front-runners. This year they are well-placed to make the biggest gains of any team in the pit lane. Points have to be a target.
Key to their ambitions will be how quickly their all-new driver line-up – this team’s third rookie partnership in four years – settle in to F1 life.
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94: Pascal Wehrlein
Few drivers in recent history have navigated a path from the DTM to F1: Paul di Resta was the last to try it but he is now back in the German touring car series following his three-year stint at Force India. Like Di Resta, Wehrlein was diverted into the DTM after racing in F3, but winning the championship with Mercedes paved the way for his F1 promotion.
Despite his inexperience, Wehrlein has distinguished himself with his maturity as well as his obvious speed. Last year’s topsy-turvy DTM championship was a tough title to win and Wehrlein took it by winning races when he could and delivering points when he couldn’t. That consistency, plus his deep knowledge of Mercedes’ F1 hardware from his time as a test driver, could serve Manor very well this year.
88: Rio Haryanto
Haryanto will become the first Indonesian driver to race in F1 later this month thanks to the backing of state oil company Pertamina, who has not only funded his place at Manor but also kept him in GP2 cars for the past four seasons. Inevitably he has been labelled the ‘money’ driver to Wehrlein’s ‘talent’, but this isn’t entirely fair.
After winning Asia’s Formula BMW championship in 2009 Haryanto won races in both his GP3 campaigns. But a move up to more powerful GP2 cars wasn’t accompanied by the same level of success – it took him four years to score his first of three wins, all of which came in reverse-grid races. He may be more competent than competitive, but he has a huge fan base behind him.
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11 comments on “New engines, new car, new drivers: All change at Manor”
OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
8th March 2016, 12:50
This team has the toughest underdog story. They have the unwanted stat of having lost 2 drivers in few years, one of them labelled as a star of the future, the one who let them get that memorable Monaco point and thus gave them the money to keep fighting. Now with Mercedes engines, let’s hope they can achieve what they could have got if Jules was still around.
Craig Woollard (@craig-o)
8th March 2016, 13:31
I think Manor has the weakest driver pairing on the field this year (Wehrlein is too much of an unknown for me and Haryanto really delivered far too little in the feature races in GP2) but at least the car should be much more competitive than it was last year, in theory anyway.
To me, ironically with their name now officially ‘Manor’, this team feels the least ‘Manor’ that it has done since it joined the grid. The ‘real Manor’ is off racing in the WEC as far as I’m concerned.
8th March 2016, 14:28
My assumption @craig-o is that Mercedes must have seen impressive stuff from Wehrlein in the simulator.
8th March 2016, 13:59
Manor has become one of my favourite teams, they had their ups and downs (quite big downs actually), at times they seem to be racing only by passion, and I seriously hope they can challenge for points this season
8th March 2016, 14:34
I still don’t understand why Fitzpatrick doesn’t slap an Ovo Energy logo on the engine cover of the MRT05. I only knew who he was and how he made his money because of F1. His company ended up being my energy supplier for the last 6 months not because they were the cheapest provider in my area, but because I thought I owed him one for keeping Manor on the grid.
It wouldn’t do him or his company any harm getting a bit of F1 airtime.
Fudge Ahmed (@)
8th March 2016, 15:08
Perhap’s he’s scared of being associated with Drake…
9th March 2016, 8:53
He has mentioned in the past that this is a private investment, and nothing to do with Ovo Energy @geemac. He seemed to need to make that clear to avoid uproar from other interested parties and customers of Ovo Energy who would not want to be associated with F1 (eco-minded people) and the burning of money (conflict with low cost energy solutions).
8th March 2016, 17:10
Like Keith C. Said… Well posiioned to make biggest gains.
They have atleast one properly good driver. Good engine, sourced parts from Williams… Dayum. It can be said for this year points look on the table for some races.
And with great underdog status they have, I predict great publicity for any result they might get.
8th March 2016, 18:27
This isn’t specifically about Manor, but looking at this car, at McLaren, at Haas, Red Bull, Toro Rosso…
The RB-sponsored teams have RB branding all over them, as you’d imagine, but that’s it. Haas similarly has a bit Haas brand, and that’s it. McLaren has basically nothing. Manor has basically nothing.
I’m not normally in favor of ads splashed everywhere, but without sponsors, the liveries of these cars don’t look like F1 cars to me. They just look like off-brand representations, like a videogame that couldn’t afford the official F1 license, so instead they made a game called “Ef One” or something.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like Bernie’s basically destroyed F1 in the last decade, but man – if nothing else, *look at the cars*, and you know the sport’s in trouble. Companies don’t care because the fans don’t care.
8th March 2016, 19:11
I may have said this before, but the problem is glaringly obvious: the teams and FOM are in direct competition with each other for revenue. The teams are trying to sell eyeballs to advertisers, but Bernie’s selling “content” to an audience. There’s a conflict there. The teams and their sponsors want as much exposure as they can get. In the Internet age that shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s not in Bernie’s interest to have F1 footage available outside of his licenced distribution channels, and he’s ruthless in ensuring that it doesn’t happen. No wonder attracting sponsors is difficult.
But also, in limiting exposure like this, and reducing the attractiveness of team sponsorship, Bernie makes the teams more dependent on him. Prize money, and all the various “historical” payments, become much more important to them (and well-funded manufacturers find it much easier to make up any shortfalls than independent racing teams). It’s a win-win for him. He’s often said in the past that he’d prefer a franchise system; independent garagistes raising their own money are a problem to be solved. He wants to control all the finances of the sport.
“Destroyed F1”? Not in his eyes. Bernie knows exactly what he’s doing. This sponsor-free manufacturer-dominated series is very close to the F1 he’s been trying to create for years.
9th March 2016, 8:55
As Duncan mentions in his comment @helava, its increasingly hard to compete for sponsors against both FOM as well as other sports and entertainment.
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