Manor set for cash injection from Indonesia
The team are poised to take on state-backed Rio Haryanto, with former Mclaren man Martin Whitmarsh involved behind the scenes
Indonesian GP2 racer Rio Haryanto looks set to take up a race seat at Manor Marussia for 2016 after his country’s government pledged £11.3m of sponsorship.
A letter released by Indonesia’s Minister of Youth and Sport, Imam Nahrawi, guaranteed the payment “to be made via several instalments in return for the branding space taken on the race cars and drivers’ race wear, plus a host of promotional activities to promote Indonesia and associated companies”.
Haryanto has long been linked with a drive for Manor Marussia, whose other candidates include former Mclaren driver Kevin Magnussen as well as 2015 racers Will Stevens, Alexander Rossi and Roberto Merhi.
Stevens has expressed his confidence that he will retain his seat. “If it’s going to happen, I’m sure it’s not going to be far away,” he said. “In terms of how confident I am to get the seat, I’m 100 per cent confident.”
Manor Marussia are now a much more attractive proposition for drivers than previously, following their acquisition of a Mercedes engine and a technical partnership with Williams, Rio Haryanto is set for a Manor Marussia seat, with Kevin Magnussen, Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens competing for the other one
which will produce the car’s gearbox and rear suspension. But they remain a team in transition following the departure of their founder and team principal John Booth, as well as president and sporting director Graeme Lowdon, at the end of last season.
Owner Stephen Fitzpatrick tried to recruit former F1 driver Alexander Wurz as team principal, but Wurz turned him down. This appears to leave a vacancy above new racing director Dave Ryan, who is returning to F1 after a six-year absence, in the wake of the ‘Lie-gate’ scandal following the 2009 Australian GP.
Former Mclaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has been involved with Manor Marussia behind the scenes, and has recently been interviewing candidate drivers. However, he has no formal role and has said that he is not interested in being an F1 team principal. But sources claim he would be interested in a more senior role with Manor if one were available.