Manor Marussia team to miss Australian Grand Prix

The struggling Manor Marussia Formula One team will watch the season-opening Australian Grand Prix from their garages after failing to make it onto the Melbourne track for qualifying.

Reuters| Last Updated: Mar 14, 2015, 13:25 PM IST
Manor Marussia team to miss Australian Grand Prix

MELBOURNE: The struggling Manor Marussia Formula One team will watch the season-opening Australian Grand Prix from their garages after failing to make it onto the Melbourne track for qualifying.

The British-based team struggled just to get their cars to Albert Park for the opening race but were unable to get either of them on the circuit because of a computer software problem.

The team sat out Friday`s two practice sessions as well as Saturday`s final warm-up and the official qualifying session, making them ineligible for Sunday`s race.

“I think we made a lot of progress yesterday, in fact we made huge steps forward yesterday, but we are still hitting some problems," Manor’s sporting director Graeme Lowdon told Sky Television on Saturday.

"We’re just going to run out of time. But one thing is for sure, the guys are not going to stop and they are just going to keep pushing as hard as they can until somebody says stop.

"We will keep pushing but we have still got some issues that we need to solve."

The cash-strapped team have been more focused on securing their immediate survival than any long-term planning, having missed the last three races of 2014.

They will be starting the season with a revised 2014 car, tweaked to meet 2015 safety regulations, and last year`s Ferrari power unit.

They only finalised their driving lineup earlier this week, naming Spaniard Roberto Merhi to partner Britain`s Will Stevens.
`REAL BOOST`

Despite knowing they would struggle to race in Australia, Lowdon said it was important they had made the effort.

"We are trying very hard but it is a tough thing to do in the time available," he said. "But the good thing is that once the problems are solved, that’s it. We’ll be running."

Lowdon did offer some glimmer of hope that Manor would be able to race at either the next round in Malaysia or the one after in China.

"That’s a reasonable kind of expectation," he said.

"Based on the progress we made yesterday, I think that’s given everybody a real boost. And we’ll be pushing as hard as we can."

Former world champion Damon Hill told Sky Sports he too thought it was a positive sign the team came to Australia.

"This team has had a whole lot of difficulties thrown at it and it’s still surviving," he said.

"It might be that it is just a technical box thing, they have to have turned up and shown that they are a force that is still alive and a functioning team even though it can’t run a car."