Manor Racing enjoyed one of its strongest Formula 1 qualifying displays to date on Saturday ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix as Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon finished 16th and 18th respectively.
Wehrlein produced a particularly impressive lap in Q1 to make it through to the second stage of qualifying for the third time this season, finishing the session ninth.
After using two sets of new super-soft tires in the first stage, Wehrlein was forced to complete Q2 on a used set, meaning he lapped eight-tenths of a second slower than his original effort.
The German driver was resigned to P16 in Q2, which while bearing a tinge of disappointment was nevertheless an excellent result for the team.
“I’m very happy that we made it through to Q2, of course. Q1 was incredible for us with P9,” Wehrlein said.
“But unfortunately we had no new super-soft tyres for Q2, so it’s a bit of shame, and I had to do my lap on used tires.
“Q1 felt so good with new tires, so you can see what was possible today; that last run was not our true pace. So it was a bit of a shame, but that decision has to be made much earlier in the year.”
Teammate Ocon enjoyed his first F1 qualifying outing with Manor after replacing Rio Haryanto over the summer, and narrowly missed out on a place in Q2 after an impressive run to P18. However, he too was disappointed.
“I’ve been pretty happy with my pace generally but it’s not easy to start your F1 career more than halfway through the season,” Ocon said.
“I need more time in the car and with the super-soft tire and even managing the traffic; that’s quite a challenge too with all the cars slowing down after their laps.
“It takes more experience than I have in three practice sessions to really extract the maximum out of everything. That’s something to look forward to with each new race though, improving step by step.
“I was very quick on the soft tire, so although I’m a little disappointed today, I’m also excited about what is yet to come.”
Both Wehrlein and Ocon gain a place on the grid for Sunday’s race by virtue of Esteban Gutierrez’s grid penalty, dropping the Mexican to 18th.
The Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.