Car count was a major topic at the weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne where 20 cars were entered. Only 15 took the grid, two more were eliminated after the first lap and two more were potentially at risk of being seized earlier in the weekend.
It’s the two Manor cars, however, that have FOM supremo Bernie Ecclestone furious and up in arms for their weekend of non-participation.
Neither car turned a single lap at Albert Park, but the team was cleared by the stewards of any wrongdoing to the legal letter of the regulations.
Ecclestone, meanwhile, took the opportunity to lash out at the team’s display to Reuters.
“We should have never ever, ever allowed Manor to do what they’ve done. It’s our fault. I predicted this would happen,” Ecclestone told Reuters.
He added, “They had no intention of racing in Australia. Zero. They couldn’t have raced if someone had gone there with a machine gun and put it to their head.”
Ecclestone confirmed the team will “have to pay to get out there and get out of there,” in reference to its participation at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Manor looked set to miss the 2015 season in total after its withdrawal from the final three Grands Prix of 2014, and went into administration in the offseason.
However, fresh investment emerged over the winter, the team exited administration and made it to Melbourne. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi are set to drive when the cars do take to the track.
Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.
The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.
“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.
“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”
The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.
Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.
Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.
McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.