Manor is not yet turning its attention to the matter of its driver lineup for 2016. The former Marussia team has fielded Briton Will Stevens alongside Roberto Merhi this season, although the security of the latter Spaniard's seat has often been in question due to his lack of sponsorship backing. "Normally, we try to enter into contracts in late November, early December," team boss John Booth told Russia's Championat. "It is not always possible, but that is the goal."
When asked about Merhi's lack of backing, Booth answered: "Again, in terms of performance, we are very satisfied with both of our current drivers. I think under the circumstances they could not have done a better job. But as far as the commercial side goes, I cannot comment on it."
Manor has focused this year on rebuilding, following the collapse of the former guise Marussia late last year. It means the team has struggled in 2015 with essentially last year's car, powered by the 2014-spec Ferrari engine. "The new Ferrari engine is simply impossible to get into this car," Booth admitted. "We explored options in terms of significantly restructuring the car, but decided instead to concentrate on the car for 2016 -- and we believe that was the right choice."
He said Manor is targeting a "big step" for 2016, but it seems another Ferrari customer, Haas, is set to debut with much more significant support from the works team. It has triggered speculation Manor might become the first customer of Honda, even though McLaren is thought to object that that idea.
Booth said: "Let's just say that Honda is a fantastic company with a great history in formula one. And I'm sure that sooner or later they will get things right. At the moment there are no such talks, but I cannot say that such an option will be excluded forever," he added.
And Booth said it is certain that Manor will be back on the grid in 2016. "Yes. I believe we have implemented a good business plan," he said. "We will not spend more than we have -- which as it happens is quite unusual in formula one!" (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing