Simply finishing a grand prix may not seem like a great achievement to some, but for Manor Marussia F1 Team, it meant the world as Roberto Merhi took the checkered flag in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Following a winter of uncertainty, the ex-Marussia operation was saved thanks to fresh investment, allowing the team to get out on track for the first time in practice on Friday.
Despite failing to finish inside the 107% time required to qualify, the race stewards gave Manor drivers Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens permission to race on Sunday.
Stevens failed to make the start following a fuel system problem on his car, but Merhi produced a fine display to finish the race, with the 53-lap run being the longest that the team has managed by far.
“I’m so happy for the team,” Merhi said. “P15 is not only a great result from today’s race, but also a huge reward for a fantastic effort over the past few months. I’m really proud of us.
“Coming into the weekend we knew things would not be easy; we had to work very hard and stay focused every step of the way. We missed out on some of our targets but in the end it was the race that mattered and we brought the car home with a full race distance.
“That was my main objective, as the information we now have is so important for our development, but it’s good to know that we got a good result along the way and finished ahead of some of the other teams.”
Team principal John Booth echoed Merhi’s sentiments, believing that it was a just reward for the team after all of its work over the winter.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to see the checkered flag today,” Booth said. “We’ve had to overcome some massive hurdles in a very short space of time, so everyone is pretty emotional this afternoon.
“This result is just reward for an incredible amount of hard work and determination from a fantastic team of people.”
Manor will now be hoping to carry this form into the next race in China, where we will hopefully see both of its cars on the grid and racing.