Merhi learned of Manor demotion in Singapore

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Manor driver Roberto Merhi was only told that he would not be racing in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix when he arrived in the city state on Monday.

On Wednesday, Manor confirmed that American driver Alexander Rossi would be replacing Merhi for five of the remaining seven Formula 1 grands prix in 2015, starting with Sunday’s race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Merhi has been demoted to the role of reserve driver for the time being, but will race in Russia and Abu Dhabi when Rossi returns to GP2 as he bids to finish the year as the series’ vice-champion.

Despite being dropped for the weekend, Merhi remained on the FIA roster for Thursday’s press conference, and revealed that he had only learned of his fate upon arrival in Singapore.

“I flew on Monday and when I arrived the team give me the news that I would not be driving and Rossi would be in my place for the four or five races of the remaining seven,” Merhi said.

The Spaniard remained grateful for the opportunity that Manor had given him in 2015, having only signed a race-by-race deal with the British minnows at the beginning of the season.

“At the beginning of the year when I came to Melbourne with Manor, they gave me a great chance to be part of the team and to be a driver of the team but for sure I didn’t know how long it was going to end up,” Merhi said.

“At least I did 12 races, that is really good, I think, for a driver in Formula 1 that is quite difficult. And they gave me a good chance to be there in the car for 12 races and I want to say thank you for them but obviously I think they have taken a decision that is better for the team in a long-term result.

“We hope that I am still competitive for the last two races I have this year and I will try to prepare now all the weekends that I go together with the team, from now to the end of the year, and try to improve and learn as much as I can, to get ready for the race in Sochi and in Abu Dhabi.”

Merhi has now turned his attention to securing a seat in F1 for 2016, but admitted that securing a budget to claim a place on the grid would be difficult.

“For next season, we still don’t know yet,” Merhi said. “We are looking for a Formula 1 seat and we will try to find the best option possible but obviously these days I think a budget is really important and at the moment it’s hard to find.”