Against all odds, it looks like the Manor Marussia team will be on the Formula One starting grid at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend. And now the troubled outfit has announced its driver lineup, for that first race, at least.
Manor's new recruit is one Roberto Merhi, an up-and-coming Spanish driver who previously tested for Caterham at three grands prix last season. Merhi won the Formula 3 Euro Series title in dominant style back in 2011. He won four races in Formula Renault 3.5 last season and is scheduled to continue his assault on that pivotal rung up the formula racing ladder this year.
The other race seat, announced last month, goes to Will Stevens, who drove in last season's closer in Abu Dhabi, also for Caterham. The young Brit has also won races in Formula Renault 3.5, and served as test and reserve driver for Marussia last year.
Though Stevens was confirmed as a long-term prospect, Merhi was announced only for the "opening rounds of the 2015 season" – after which he could feasibly be replaced by another driver who could bring more sponsorship and experience with him to the team.
Alongside Merhi and Stevens, Manor also announced Jordan King – son of the team's new chairman Justin King – as its development driver while he competes in the vital GP2 series.
- Roberto Merhi to race alongside Will Stevens
- Jordan King signed as Development Driver
10 March 2015, 10.30hrs AEDT (GMT+11)
The Manor Marussia F1 Team is pleased to announce that rising Spanish star Roberto Merhi will be racing alongside Will Stevens in the opening rounds of the 2015 season.
John Booth, Team Principal, commented: "It is fantastic to welcome Roberto and Jordan to the team. Not only are they very talented young drivers with exciting futures ahead of them, they have also been 'graduates' of Manor Motorsport in the junior formulae, which is obviously very rewarding for us, given that the development of young talent is an important part of our philosophy."
Roberto commented: "I am incredibly excited to be making my Formula 1 debut with Manor Marussia F1 Team in Melbourne this weekend. 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."
Also announced today is the team's new Development Driver, Jordan King. The 21 year old Briton, who will compete in the 2015 GP2 Series, will combine his regular racing role with test duties for Manor in order to begin the steady progression towards his longer-term ambition of a Formula 1 race seat.
Jordan commented: "I am obviously over the moon to be joining Manor Marussia F1 Team as a development driver. This is such an exciting project, full of great people and with a real chance of success. This is another great step closer to my ultimate goal of racing in Formula 1."