Manor makes breakthrough with first 2015 on-track running in Malaysia

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After surviving administration and the sale of most of its assets over the winter, Manor Marussia F1 Team claimed a significant victory in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix today by completing its first on-track running of 2015.

The ex-Marussia operation was revived in the off-season thanks to fresh investment and the efforts of the management at Dinnington to get the team back on the grid in 2015.

Despite traveling to Australia for the opening race of the 2015 season two weeks ago, Manor did not participate in any of the race weekend sessions as it continued to work on rebuilding its cars and readying them for running.

However, the team made an early statement in Malaysia by heading straight out at the beginning of the first free practice session, and went on to complete 34 laps in total on Friday.

“We are thrilled to be back on track again, finally seeing all the hard work and determination paying off,” team principal John Booth said.

“I’m very satisfied with what we have achieved today. On what has essentially been a shakedown and practice day – which the other teams completed a couple of months ago – we’ve achieved 34 laps of reliable running and that is a really good effort when one considers the problems teams typically encounter on the opening day of running a car.”

Booth also believes that drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will have no problem in qualifying for the race on Sunday. Both drivers must record a lap time that is within 107% of the quickest time in Q1 to secure a place on the grid on Sunday.

“We were also encouraged by our early pace in relation to the 107% rule and solid performances by both drivers on their first day in the car,” Booth said.

“Of course, there is a huge amount of work still to be done, both here in Malaysia and ahead into the season, but we’ll take some reward from the day nonetheless. Most importantly, we are back doing what we do best – racing.”

Stevens was pleased to get behind the wheel of an F1 car for the first time since last November’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he made his debut in the sport for the now-defunct Caterham F1 Team.

“It’s really nice to be back in a Formula 1 car and to get down to the business of racing,” Stevens said. “The day ran very smoothly versus our planned programme and I’m particularly pleased that my times in both sessions were inside the 107%.

“Considering how little running we have done, today is a really good step and my thanks to the team for a tremendous effort. We’re not under any illusions about the challenges that lie ahead though and we have a busy night in front of us to work through the data to try to improve and set ourselves up for the best showing possible tomorrow.”