With an all new chassis and a Mercedes power unit, Manor had all the right ingredients to move up to the midfield. However, in the end, the British squad just fell short of 10th place in the championship.
Manor wrote off its 2015 campaign to focus its entire efforts on 2016. A new chassis was built at team’s new base in Banbury, while a deal with Mercedes was struck for the supply of German manufacturer’s pacesetting power units. A similar arrangement with Williams was made for suspension and transmissions units.
On the managerial side, the biggest appointment came in form of McLaren man Dave Ryan, who was hired to handle the outfit’s sporting aspects.
The new structure immediately paid dividends with Manor successfully closing the gap to other runners, instead of simply making the numbers.
In the hands of Wehrlein, the team got into Q2 five times during the season, while outpacing the likes of Sauber, Renault and Toro Rosso at several occasions.
However, perhaps most memorable moment of the season came during the Austrian Grand Prix where Pascal Wehrlein finished 10th, bagging a hard-earned solitary point.
By virtue of that result the British squad looked set to secure 10th place in the championship until Sauber’s Felipe Nasr spoilt the party for Manor during a wet Brazilian Grand Prix.
The driver line-up
Manor started the season with an all-rookie lineup of Mercedes young driver Wehrlein and Indonesia's Rio Haryanto.
Wehrlein is rated highly among Mercedes and logged considerable mileage for both the German manufacturer and Force India before making his race debut.
The faith was largely warranted with Wehrlein impressing at multiple occasions, particularly in qualifying.
One aspect, however, where he struggled was consistency, with his lack of pace in Brazil also a cause of worry.
Wehrlein was paired with pay-driver Haryanto for the first part of the season. To be honest, he did a fairly decent job against a man who had far more F1 miles under his belt. One would have expected him to improve over the season but his sponsorship money dried up, forcing him to watch the rest of the season from the sidelines.
Haryanto’s demotion allowed Mercedes to field another of its young racers, Esteban Ocon, at Manor, effectively creating its own version of Toro Rosso.
Ocon was immediately up to pace and at times beat Wehrlein, confirming his credentials as an upcoming star.
It is also believed that Ocon is better at integrating himself with the team, which is why he was chosen as Force India’s replacement for Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg.
At the time of writing, there are rumours circling around of a possible takeover by Asian investors. Given that team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick had previously admitted that he is willing to bring investors on board, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the deal goes through.
However, what Manor really needs is continuity and an investor who is willing in to inject more money for the long-term future of the squad.
by Rachit Thukral