F1 2015 team preview: Manor Marussia F1 Team

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Manor Marussia F1 Team

Drivers
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.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).