FIA clears Manor of regulation breach after Melbourne no-show

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The FIA stewards at the Australian Grand Prix have cleared Manor Marussia F1 Team of breaching the Formula 1 sporting regulations after it failed to take part in any of this weekend’s sessions at Albert Park.

Following a turbulent winter, Manor managed to secure a place on the grid in 2015 thanks to fresh investment, allowing the team to run a reduced operation in Australia.

Despite flying some 20 tonnes of cargo to Melbourne, Manor failed to field either of its cars in practice or qualifying for the race, meaning that it was forbidden from lining up on the grid on Sunday.

On Saturday, the FIA stewards issued a statement requesting an explanation from Manor:

“A team representative is required to report to the Stewards at 20:00. The Stewards request that you provide a written statement explaining why the team did not participate in Qualifying for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix after receiving a letter from the FIA on the 20th February.”

The team was accused of breaching article 13.2(f) of the sporting regulations, which state that there is “an undertaking by the applicant to participate in every Event with the number of cars and drivers entered.”

Manor responded to the stewards’ letter with a full explanation of its activities in Melbourne, making clear that it did everything in its power to reach the grid.

On Sunday after the race, the stewards responded by issuing a statement that confirmed the team had been cleared of any wrongdoing.

The statement reads as follows:

“Having considered all available material, the Stewards determined that there had not been a breach of Article 13.2 (f), on the basis that the team had:

1. Attended the event
2. Brought a significant quantity of material and equipment with it
3. Produced all required documents for checking
4. Taken part in Scrutineering and its 2 cars were eligible to compete
5. Brought sufficient staff to prepare the cars for competition
6. Continued to work and do all within its ability to enable the 2 cars to compete
7. Prepared the cars to a state where they were mechanically complete
8. Would not have been able to achieve a software configuration that allowed the 2 cars to the be operated in Practice or Qualifying sessions, even if they had worked outside curfew requirements.

Therefore the Stewards accepted that the team explained it had used all reasonable endeavours to ensure that its cars were able to compete in active competition, therefore the Stewards take no further action during the event.”

With most of Manor Marussia’s assets being sold over the winter, the team is effectively running as a shell operation for the time being. Most within the paddock expect the cars to get out on track for the first time at the Malaysian Grand Prix, with Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi (pictured) being the team’s designated drivers for 2015.