Wehrlein: Gap for Manor to make up ‘much smaller’ in 2016

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Pascal Wehrlein believes that Manor Racing faces a far smaller gap to make up to the rest of the teams in Formula 1 this year than it did in 2015.

Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut with Manor in Australia later this month, having joined the team after winning last year’s DTM title.

Manor ran very much as a shell operation to begin with in 2015 after bouncing back from a number of financial issues the previous year, but now appears to be more stable thanks to a technical partnership with Mercedes.

Wehrlein impressed many during pre-season testing in Barcelona with some good times, and he believes that the gap between Manor and the rest of the field is far smaller this year.

“There is a gap that we need to push hard to close but for the team it’s much smaller than before and though everyone is tired after working so hard, we have some things to look forward to now,” Wehrlein said.

“I feel at home with my new team so my thanks to them and I can’t wait to be racing together in Melbourne in two weeks’ time.”

Wehrlein’s final day of running was cut short due to a number of mechanical issues on the car, but racing director Dave Ryan was unconcerned and is sure his driver is in good shape for his F1 debut.

“We’ve had a few issues to deal with during the day and they took a while to get on top of but not a bad result from our 48 laps with Pascal,” Ryan said.

“He did a great job with the limited running we gave him and though it’s never wise to read too much into testing times, I think we can be reasonably happy with where we’ve ended up.

“For Pascal that’s his last lap until Melbourne. He’s in good shape and has the confidence in the car so we’re looking forward to seeing what he can do with it.”