Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says Manor Racing has the potential to race in the mid-field this season having secured use of Mercedes power units and highly-rated youngster Pascal Wehrlein.
The British-based team, which has competed under the Virgin, Marussia and Manor banners since its debut in 2010, has managed just one top ten finish over the last six seasons, but heads into 2016 having agreed a technical partnership with Williams, secured a supply of competitive Mercedes power units and made a number of key signings, not least DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein.
Indeed, these combined lead many to believe Manor stands to make substantial gains in 2016, not least Wolff, who brokered the deal to have Mercedes development driver Wehrlein make his F1 debut.
“Manor will make a big step and not just because of the engine,” he said. “There is a good bunch of people coming together, impressive individuals with the right budget and attitude.
“I have confidence that the car and driver will have highlights and could be a solid mid-field runner.”
Having slipped into administration towards the end of the 2014 season, Manor was rescued in an eleventh hour deal ahead of the 2015 season, with Stephen Fitzpatrick – founder of the OVO energy company – taking ownership of the team.
After a year struggling at the back of the grid using modified versions of its Ferrari-powered 2014 car, Manor has welcomed several notable figures to lead its renewed 2016 charge, including Nikolas Tombazis, Pat Fry and Dave Ryan.
With less than a week to go before the much anticipated Mercedes-powered MRT05 is revealed, Manor has so far confirmed just Wehrlein in one of its seats.