It has been announced a few days ago that the Manor Formula 1 team is set to wait until next year to introduce a new chassis to allow for maximum time to be spent on development.
Though the team was forced to start the season with a modified 2014 car this season, after its last-minute revival having gone into administration, the plan was to introduce a new car at some point this year.
However, following a rebuild of the team, which included the recruitment of key personnel such as former Mercedes Technical Director Bob Bell and the hectic schedule of the flyaway races to end the season, the team has switched strategy.
In an interview with the media later this week, Manor Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon stated the following about the team switching the strategy to delay a new car until the 2016 season as follows:-
‘The plan we had at the start of the year envisaged making some major change to the chassis and power unit during the 2015 season. But as we developed and recruited more people, it became less and less feasible to go down that route and more and more advantageous to keep developing the next chassis.
‘The rate of development of that chassis has been good and the optimum time to push that button was getting pushed back. Everyone is confident that when next car comes along, it will be a major step forward. I would imagine that is going to be next year. We’re in flyaways now and with the production time and everything else, doing it this year would be tough.’
Even though things haven’t gone in the direction that they would have liked; it is clear that it would have been hard for the Manor F1 team to release a new car this season but all they can do is just keep on the direction that they are heading in and work hard to make sure that the 2016 car can be the best that it can be.
With the early races of a season often offering the smaller teams their best chance to score points, further on in his interview this week, Lowdon is keen to ensure Manor does not compromise next season in search of gains this term. Lowdon added the following:-
‘Other teams managed to get points at certain stages where you have to say, if we compromise the 2016 build by building something new now, what reward would we get for that? It now looks more and more beneficial to keep design and keep getting the aero figures and progress on that rather than pressing button and manufacturing the car [now].’
It is clear that Lowdon feels that the team wouldn’t get any benefit from releasing a new car this season and feels that the best thing to do is to keep the momentum going and use it to motivate the team ready for the 2016 season.
However, Lowdon then finally added in his interview that Manor still plans to add updates to its current car but they will all be relevant to next year. Lowdon finally added the following:-
‘I’m pretty sure we’ll have some new things in Singapore and/or Japan. There are a lot of upgrades which are applicable to next year’s car so it’s not costing us development time. They will not be detracting from our 2016 plans. If anything, it’s complimentary, so yes, we’ll definitely keep bringing things.’
Even though the team are bringing new development parts to Singapore and Japan which is great to see, this will ultimately help them prepare for the 2016 season and the data that they will gather from these two races will put them in good stead and will see if they are heading in the same direction for next season.
But even though the Manor F1 team, the paddock and the fans would have wanted to see a new car this season; the fact of the matter is that they believe that bringing the car in 2016 will be more beneficial for them and hopefully be the step forward that they would like and need it to be.
For me, the important fact is that the Manor F1 team are racing this season; even if they are using a 2014 car with a 2015 engine. And given everything they have been through in the past year; that in itself is a fantastic achievement and I think no-one should forget that. And I wish Manor the best of luck with the development of the 2016 car and hope it is a step forward that will help them get back to trying to fight with their rivals as quickly as possible.