FIA ask Manor to explain Australia qualifying absence

The FIA have asked the Manor F1 Team to explain the reason why neither Will Stevens nor Roberto Merhi attempted to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix.

Neither car ventured out on track all weekend as the team attempted to set up the cars after finding the software it needed had been wiped ahead of an auction set up by administrators that was subsequently cancelled when investment was found, but the FIA have requested a written statement from the team with the reason why they were absent from the track proceedings.

The brief statement from the FIA read: “The stewards request that you provide a written statement explaining why the team did not participate in qualifying for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix after receiving a letter from the FIA on the 20th February.”

Team Boss John Booth believed Manor had made the right decision to come to Australia despite the no-show on track, but denied their presence in the pit lane was not just to ensure they received the prize money from 2014, insisting it was their intention to get out on track if possible.

“We are entered in the Formula 1 World Championship and we felt it important to be here to try and compete,” said Booth.

“I can understand people being cynical but if that was the case we wouldn’t have brought 30 tonnes of equipment, 40 people, fulfilled all of our contracts with all suppliers, whether it’s Pirelli, Ferrari, whoever, with our best endeavours to go round and round a circuit.

“We knew that there was only a slim chance of making quali when we set off. They are incredibly complex things these modern F1 cars. We had three weeks to design and make the car legal to the 2015 FIA regulations.

“We had almost no time to fix the racks and electronics and get all those infrastructures built that are required. I think we pretty much knew by four o’clock this morning that we weren’t going to make it.”

Booth believes that getting out on track for the second round of the season in Malaysia will not be a problem after seeing the progress made over the past few days with the software problems.

“We are in a massively different place now to where we were at the start of the week,” added Booth. “We actually have functioning racks now, we can talk to the cars. Even the information on the pit wall is working now.

“The progress of the week has been colossal, it’s just not quite enough.”

Both drivers were naturally disappointed in missing out on getting on track at Albert Park, with Stevens admitting that he knew the weekend would be difficult. The Briton is now focused on Malaysia, and debuting the car there.

“It goes without saying that I’m disappointed that we ran out of time for qualifying,” reflected Stevens. “Disappointed not just for me, but for the whole team, because the effort this week has been tremendous.

“What matters most is that we’re here, so we have to focus on that fact and look to the future. We knew it would be difficult, that we would experience some challenges and that is what happened, but we are better placed for the next few races and that in itself justifies the hard work over the past few days.”

Merhi, who was set to make his Grand Prix debut in Australia, felt disappointed to miss out on any track running, but admitted he already felt like part of the team as they tried to work through the issues together.

“A tough way to start the season but we have worked together to try to overcome our problems and already I feel a big part of the team,” said Merhi. “They are like a family and it is nice to see the true spirit, even if we had hoped for more this weekend.

“Certainly we came here to go racing and it is difficult that we haven’t been able to get the cars out but that leaves me feeling all the more determined to work hard with everybody to push for more in the coming races.”