27 February 2016
Barcelona F1 Pre-season Test : Manor not suffering 'small team syndrome'
The Manor F1 team expects to be able to develop its new MRT05 machine throughout the 2016 season, while also keeping an eye on movement surrounding the 2017 rulebook
The reworked Manor F1 team is determined to push its case for at least a midfield role this season, with new racing director Dave Ryan bullish about its chances following a solid four-day test in Barcelona.
The team's Mercedes-powered MRT05 was not disgraced during the first pre-season group test, despite F1 rookies Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto being charged with driving duties in 2016. Diversifying from the pack by featuring the only long, low nose concept in the eleven-team field, Manor could find itself at a disadvantage should their rivals' designs prove to be more competitive, but Ryan is adamant that the Banbury outfit will not suffer for being the smallest team on the grid, with new parts already in the pipeline for the season-opener in Melbourne.
"Absolutely," he insisted, "Just because we're a small team, it doesn't mean we've just built a new car and then stopped. We haven't - it's just the opposite.
"This is a new era for us: we've got a new car, we have a development programme, we have some great people back at the factory. Every single person back at the factory is so full of enthusiasm and optimism, the work they're putting in is phenomenal. The thing we need to do is not spend that money badly. If we do development, we have to be sure they're developments that will benefit us, so we can't just throw things at the car and hope they benefit us.
"We have a programme of changes throughout the year but, as long as we validate them properly, they will get on the car. If they don't get through that phase, we won't put them on the car. So in terms of 'are we going to develop the car?. Absolutely!"
Ryan confirmed that the MRT05's nose would be retained through the opening round, having caused no major issues in testing.
"Yeah, it is a bit different to everyone else's, but it works for us," he noted, all the while pointing out that that working on a different concept would no be a problem,
"It's probably not a step too far," he said of the suggestion that bigger teams were more able to work on smaller nose concepts and get them crash tested, "It's a bigger job, let's put it that way. From our perspective, it didn't seem to be too much difference from an aero performance, so we stuck with what we had really and developed along that concept."
Ryan also let slip that Manor was already looking towards the 2017 season, when the F1 rule book is expected to receive a radical overhaul. While bigger teams may hold back resources until it becomes clear that the need to focus on next year, Manor appears prepped from when the final rulebook is released,
"We're completely up for it," Ryan claimed, "To be honest, we would have probably gone for any one of the three options. We're up for change, it's a challenge.
"We've got Nikolas Tombazis with us now and he's got to be one of the best aero guys out there and I think he's going to work really well. We've got a 2016 and 2017 team working on the car so we're okay, we're fine.
"We're looking at  already but, until everything is absolutely finalised, you kind of don't know where you're at. Even now it hasn't been approved [but], once it gets to that stage, we will be full on."
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