Manor

FIA WEC

Manor alters No. 24 crew line-up for WEC Mexico

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Manor’s Jean-Eric Vergne will be joined by two new drivers in the No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson for the upcoming FIA World Endurance Championship round in Mexico following a revision of the team’s line-up.

Manor fielded ex-Toro Rosso Formula 1 and current Formula E racer Vergne alongside Jonathan Hirschi and Tor Graves in the No. 24 Oreca through the opening three rounds of the season, the trio recording a best finish of fourth in the LMP2 class at Le Mans.

Vergne was replaced by Roberto Merhi for the last round at the Nürburgring due to Formula E’s clashing commitments in New York, but will be joined by an all-new line-up for the next race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on September 3.

Matt Rao returns to Manor’s LMP2 line-up after featuring last season ahead of a move to Signatech Alpine for 2017, acting as its silver-rated driver.

Vergne and Rao will be joined by British racer Ben Hanley, who moves onto his third team of the WEC season after featuring for TDS Racing, DragonSpeed and G-Drive Racing so far this season at Spa, Le Mans and the Nürburgring respectively.

Manor’s No. 25 Oreca line-up remains unchanged, with Vitaly Petrov being joined by Simon Trummer and Roberto Gonzalez for Mexico City.

Click here to see the full entry list of the 6 Hours of Mexico.

Jean-Eric Vergne claims WEC seat with Manor for 2017

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Ex-Formula 1 driver and current Formula E racer Jean-Eric Vergne will make his debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship next month after signing a deal with Manor for 2017.

Vergne raced for Toro Rosso in F1 between 2012 and 2014 before spending two years in a reserve role at Ferrari.

The Frenchman moved into Formula E following his race stint in F1, driving for Andretti and DS Virgin before joining Techeetah for season three and taking a stake in the team.

Vergne will balance his Formula E duties with a drive in the WEC this year, announcing on Friday that he would be linking up with the CEFC Manor TRS Racing team.

Vergne will make his debut for Manor at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 16 ahead of a nine-round season that will also see him make his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

“I’m extremely happy to join CEFC Manor TRS Racing for the WEC season,” Vergne said.

“Endurance racing and especially the 24 Hours of Le Mans is something that has been more and more on my mind lately. I couldn’t ask for more than to start this experience with such a great team.

“I can’t wait to be behind the wheel and bring my motivation to the team to achieve great results together!”

“We are very happy to welcome Jean-Eric to the team. He is a very talented driver that we have followed over the years as we have raced alongside him in Formula 1,” Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon added.

“We are really looking forward to starting the season and working together with Jean-Éric and I hope that, together, we will have a really successful year.”

Vergne is the fifth driver to join Manor’s two-car effort for the 2017 WEC campaign, taking a seat alongside Tor Graves, Jonathan Hirschi, Roberto Gonzalez and Simon Trummer.

Manor adds Jonathan Hirschi to 2017 WEC line-up

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CEFC Manor TRS Racing has confirmed that Swiss driver Jonathan Hirschi will join its line-up for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Hirschi, 31, has competed in numerous sportscar and rally events in recent years, making four appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 2010 and 2013.

Hirschi will return to the Circuit de la Sarthe in June as part of the newly-rebranded Manor team’s line-up, as confirmed on Thursday.

“We are very happy that Jonathan is joining the team for WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Manor president and sporting director Graeme Lowdon said.

“He has a lot of experience in endurance racing including multiple visits to Le Mans so it is great to add him to our driver line up.

“We have had a busy few weeks preparing for the new season but we are looking forward to the year ahead, it seems like a long time since our last race so we really can’t wait to get going again.”

Hirschi added: “I’m really happy to join CEFC Manor TRS Racing for WEC this season. After three seasons in ELMS I am really happy to be taking part in WEC and to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“A big thank you to Graeme Lowdon and John Booth to trust in me this season and I will do my best to achieve my goals.

“I am impatient to drive the new LMP2 with new rules and to drive an ORECA chassis again. I can’t wait for the Prologue at Monza.”

Hirschi is the fourth driver to be confirmed in a Manor seat for 2017, joining up with Simon Trummer, Tor Graves and Roberto Gonzalez.

The new FIA WEC season begins on April 16 at Silverstone.

Wehrlein’s 2017 shift is from Manor to Sauber, not Mercedes

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With Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement shifting the 2017 Formula 1 silly season into a final kick of overdrive, Mercedes AMG Petronas reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein appeared well-positioned to replace the outgoing and newly crowned World Champion. He also said as much after winning rookie-of-the-year honors at the year-end Autosport Awards.

However, with Wehrlein short on overall experience after his first season at Manor and with Mercedes set to snatch Valtteri Bottas away from Williams Martini Racing, the German was passed over for the vacant seat at the three-time defending World Championship outfit.

Wehrlein will be on the move anyway for 2017 nonetheless, with Sauber F1 Team confirming his arrival there next year alongside Marcus Ericsson, who returns for his third season with the team.

“I am very delighted at being a part of the Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming Formula One Season,” Wehrlein said in a release.

“It is a new challenge in a new team, and I am really excited and looking forward to this new adventure. Our objective is to establish ourselves in the mid-field and to score points on a regular basis.

“That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season.

“That being said, I will do my best to support Sauber. Now I am looking forward to meeting everyone in the team and to tackling the preparations for the 2017 season. I want to say a big thank you to Sauber for trusting in me and giving me this great chance. And surely, a huge thanks also goes to Mercedes for the support.”

It’s rather ironic Wehrlein will shift to Sauber, a team Manor was ahead of all season until the penultimate race at Brazil. Wehrlein delivered Manor’s second points finish in its seven-year history with 10th place at the Austrian Grand Prix, which was enough to slot them ahead of scoreless Sauber for most of the year.

But when Felipe Nasr came ninth in Brazil, thanks to an excellent strategy in the mixed condition race, that was enough to deliver two points and move Sauber back up to 10th in the Constructor’s Championship ahead of Manor.

Now, it’s Wehrlein who has Nasr’s old seat at the team that doesn’t have Mercedes engines, but does have the financial windfall that Manor, which has Mercedes engines, does not after coming 10th.

For Wehrlein, the shift is something of a lateral move. But if Sauber can produce a good chassis, armed with year-old Ferrari engines, the goal for Wehrlein must be to produce a Carlos Sainz-at-Toro Rosso type of campaign, punching above his weight in the midfield and breaking into double digits of points scored.

He’ll also have to be motivated knowing he was passed over not just for the Mercedes seat, but also the Sahara Force India seat taken by fellow Mercedes youngster and his second half Manor teammate, Esteban Ocon.

Haryanto loses backing from main F1 sponsor

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Rio Haryanto’s hopes of being on the Formula 1 grid in 2017 have been dealt a fresh blow after losing financial backing from his primary sponsor, Pertamina.

Haryanto made his F1 debut in Australia last March, and continued with the Manor team through the rest of the summer until the German Grand Prix.

The first Indonesian driver in F1 history was unable to gather enough funding to make it through the rest of the season, his place instead taken by Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon as he stepped up to a full-time drive starting at Spa in August. Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned energy company, also announced its withdrawal from Manor shortly thereafter.

Pertamina has now doubled down on its withdrawals, announcing in a statement on Tuesday it wouldn’t continue with Haryanto into 2017 despite making the “maximal effort” to get Haryanto back into a seat.

“This year there will not be a continuation of participation by Pertamina in F1,” spokeswoman Wianda Pusponegoro said in the statement, via Reuters.

Haryanto’s only hope for an F1 seat this year appears to be an encore at Manor anyway, with Sauber looking poised to recruit Manor’s other 2016 driver, Pascal Wehrlein, as the likely replacement for Felipe Nasr.