Roberto Merhi’s hopes of remaining part of the Manor Marussia team’s driving line-up have had a boost thanks to recent comments by the team’s sporting director, Graeme Lowdon.
The Spaniard, who finished third overall in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings, was appointed to the Manor Marussia team on a short-term deal for the “opening races” of the 2015 Formula 1 season after the team secured last-minute investment to keep it operating.
Merhi’s signing was apparently contingent on the 24-year-old bringing in much-needed sponsorship to the team if he wanted to remain part of the team’s line-up on an ongoing basis, such was its financial position.
Merhi was the team’s sole runner at the previous Malaysian Grand Prix – teammate Will Stevens was unable to qualify or start the race thanks to a terminal fuel system issue – and he managed to bring the updated MR03 over the finish line in fifteenth place.
“It is not yet official, but everyone in the team is sure I will be on track [in China],” Merhi told Spain’s Diario Sport newspaper.
“I have been very impressed that the team trusts me even if I have no support or sponsor [yet].”
Graeme Lowdon, the team’s sporting director, has weighed into the speculation over Merhi’s future ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, adding that he sees no reason why the team’s driving line-up should change in the short-term.
“We ran Roberto in 2009 in European F3 and we were really impressed with him,” Lowdon told AUTOSPORT. “He did a great job and we have always had an eye on him.”
Lowdon did hint, however, that the team’s financial position might ultimately dictate future changes in the team’s driver pairings, meaning that Merhi would have to give way if a better-funded pay driver came knocking.
“We want to bring new talent through and we have done that but we have to do whatever is right for the team at the end of the day,” he added.
“At the moment, what is right for the team is the set-up we have. Roberto did a top class job [in Malaysia]. There’s not hard and fast rules or whatever when it comes to anything, other than focusing on what is right for the team.”
Image via Manor Marussia