Formula 1

Manor F1 announce Will Stevens as first 2015 driver

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Manor F1 are aiming to be at the first race of the new season after announcing Will Stevens as their first driver for the upcoming year via their Facebook page.

The former Marussia team are currently in a frantic race to make the opening round in Melbourne in less than three weeks time, claiming their workforce are on the job 24/7 to complete cars up to full 2015 specification in time for the March 6 freight deadline for the race in Australia that takes place nine days later.

That comes after a request to field an updated version of the 2014 car was denied by the Strategy Group just over two weeks ago.

Stevens an unsurprising choice 

The revealing of Stevens is not too surprising given he was the team reserve last year, the British driver does also have experience, having taken advantage of Caterham's crowd-funding scheme to make his Formula 1 debut at last year's finale in Abu Dhabi.

No news was given on who could join the 23-year-old, though it is expected 2014 driver Max Chilton is not going to be part of the project with the new owners after joining former GP2 team Carlin in development of their new IndyCar, ahead of proposed full-time move to the American series in 2016.

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Ferrari link could provide second driver

One likely outcome, however, is one of Ferrari's reserve and test drivers could be given a seat as part of the deal with the Italian team to supply what will be 2014-specification power units this year.

If that was the case then former Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez, ex-Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne or young driver Raffaele Marciello could be called up.

Various hurdles remain

There are still several hurdles for the new owners to overcome, while the FIA entry is under the Manor name the team do still require dispensation to change their team name from Marussia to Manor F1, also in order to race the new car would have to pass FIA crash tests.

Their mere presence in Melbourne though could be enough to be considered entrants to the opening race. Under the rules if a team arrive at a Grand Prix but their car fails scrutineering, if that team can prove they have made the upmost effort to produce a legal car then while they still cannot race they are still considered to be participants in that event.

Manor taking steps to survival

Manor continue to face an uphill challenge to make what would be a very welcome return to F1 after the events towards the end of last season, but with every step it seems a team that was only hours from being liquidated a few weeks ago could still make one of the biggest feel-good stories in recent F1 history.

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