Manor Marussia F1 Team
No. 28 Will Stevens
No. 98 Roberto Merhi
First Race: 2010 Australian Grand Prix (as Virgin Racing)
Grands Prix: 55
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Race Wins: 0
Best Constructors’ Championship Finish: 9th (2014)
2014 Championship Result: 9th (2 points)
Few could have predicted the sequence of events that has allowed Marussia back into Formula 1 this year. 2014 was a year that had built up to such an epic high at Monaco, when Jules Bianchi scored the team’s first ever points. It all came crashing down in a matter of weeks though, with Bianchi suffering severe head injuries in an accident at Suzuka. The team eventually folded after the Russian Grand Prix due to financial problems, and appeared to be dead and buried by the winter.
However, fresh investment means that the team, unbelievably, will be racing this year. Britain’s Will Stevens and Spain’s Roberto Merhi may not provide much in the way of experience, but both will be looking to make the best of their lot with Manor. The team will be largely running as a shell operation to begin with, as a new car is set to be introduced later in the year. Simply surviving is an achievement though, and it is a good news story to get the season underway.
WILL STEVENS No. 28
The unheralded Englishman went from “who?” to one of Caterham’s Grand Prix drivers for its eventual swan song in Abu Dhabi to cap off the 2014 season. He didn’t embarrass himself at all and got reasonably closer to Kamui Kobayashi as the weekend progressed. A further outing for the team at the postseason test there provided even further laps and a chance to gather more data. The expectations for him as one of two first-year drivers in a team that, like Caterham at Abu Dhabi, is only making it to the grid courtesy of an 11th hour miracle, are fairly low. But that’s the point. Provided Stevens keeps his car running and in one piece, he’ll be doing the job asked of him.
ROBERTO MERHI No. 98
Merhi first moved into the periphery of Formula 1 last year when he joined the ailing Caterham team in a reserve role. The Spaniard took part in three free practice sessions, and would have made his full F1 debut had it not been for the team’s collapse following the Russian Grand Prix. Merhi won the prestigious FIA F3 European Championship back in 2011, but his career looked all but over at the start of 2014 when money began to dry up and chances were few and far between. He managed to turn things around though, rallying to third place in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship behind Red Bull juniors Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly. He may not have a firm deal for the whole year at Manor, but be sure to keep an eye on Merhi.