Manor RacingPascal WehrleinRio Haryanto

2015 Constructors' Standings - 10th

The ingredients for Manor Racing to make a leap up the order in 2016 after certainly there, but a heavily-revised set-up, rookie drivers and what remains a small budget will count against it in an increasingly competitive mid-field. Points are the target but they won't be easy to come by

Essentially a new team in all but name, Manor Racing leap into 2016 with some rather heightened expectations after its much publicised overhaul over the winter period.

Whilst many expressed dismay at the exit of Manor founder John Booth and sporting director Graeme Lowdon - both of whom had been pivotal to the team's survival twelve months earlier when it appeared almost certain to be heading for F1's financially-strapped ether -, the flip side is a team that made a series of acquisitions that, on paper, have got many rather excited.

With Dave Ryan, Nikolas Tombazis and Pat Fry all coming on board in management and technical positions, Mercedes supplying its class-leading power unit and Williams offering some engineering expertise, Manor is showcasing some impressive credentials for a team that lapped three seconds off the back at times in 2015.

With that in mind, it seems amusing then that in a way, Manor proved a bit of a disappointment in pre-season testing.

Crucially, the car is clearly more competitive and it has made the biggest gains in terms of lap time. However, it is still seemingly got some chasing to do and based on testing it seems unlikely it will be quite bothering the likes of Sauber or Toro Rosso just yet, though it probably has the edge on Haas. In fact, though Haas suffered several high profile stoppages, Manor didn't complete all that many more laps as niggles with the unfamiliar tech held it back.

Indeed, despite all of the impressive foundations, it's still worth pointing out that Manor operates on a much smaller budget than any other team, so simply having a Mercedes engine won't automatically forge it through the order and based on those that finished directly ahead in the constructors' standings last year - McLaren, Sauber and Toro Rosso - it faces a fairly uphill task to defeat them even if it is finishing on the same lap as the leaders. That said, after six years of hard graft, Manor has never been closer to the rewards it has always been chasing and given its back-story, just to be where it is now is extraordinary.

Still, budget aside, the ingredients are there, particularly with the added bonus of highly-rated Pascal Wehrlein, the DTM champion and Mercedes junior landing a long awaited promotion to F1. His team-mate Rio Haryanto brings substantial Pertamina backing, but while a few spins in testing didn't cover himself in glory, the GP2 and GP3 race winner brings more credentials than his pay-driver status betrays.

 

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