Manor looks set to stick with its current driver lineup for the 2016 season. Although Roberto Merhi returned to the car for the 2015 finale in Abu Dhabi, he was only filling in for new regular Alexander Rossi as the American completed his GP2 campaign. "I think I've shown I am capable of being in F1 and I'm confident of keeping the seat," Rossi said in Abu Dhabi.
The other cockpit has been occupied all year by Briton Will Stevens, and he admitted: "I think everything is looking good for next year. I'm pretty comfortable with where I am and where we are with the team," he added.
It is believed Manor has ramped up its asking price for the cockpits for 2016, given the move from 2014-spec Ferrari power to up-to-date Mercedes engines for 2016. Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that the price per seat for 2016 is $10 million. "As the competitiveness of the team should go up, so does the price," Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted in Abu Dhabi.
Wolff was commenting on the price of a Manor seat because he has been trying to find a place for Pascal Wehrlein, the 2015 Mercedes reserve and DTM champion. But he suggested that $10 million is too big a price to pay. "We have a driver budget, but not on this scale," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
Mercedes has also signed another tester, Esteban Ocon, for 2016, with Wolff saying last week: "It could mean both of them ending up in a testing role, in a reserve role and in a DTM role, so it's not done yet." Auto Motor und Sport also claims that the new development role at Williams for Lance Stroll, the son of Canadian billionaire Lawrence, is costing no less than $6 million. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing