Formula 1

Manor must go for talent over money in driver search

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Manor are looking forward to their first proper season since rising from the ashes of Marussia just over 12 months ago.

The team will have a brand new car after updating the 2014 chassis which was used until last year, but the question of who will be behind the wheel of both their machines remains unanswered.

As the team with the smallest budget in the competition look to make progress with Mercedes power units and attract respected engineers to their ranks, they need a driver who can maximise performance and help improve the car.


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Who's being considered?

Last year the team had Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, both good young drivers but unlikely to go much further in their Formula 1 careers.

Neither are considered likely to stay on this time around with pre-season testing beginning on February 22.

Three other drivers have been linked with the final seats on the 2016 grid, two of them who would make for an impressive duo.

Alexander Rossi, who was the reserve driver at Caterham, made his race debut with Manor last year which led to five appearances towards the end of the season while matching the team's best result of 12th place at the rain-hit United States Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old American also impressed in GP2, scoring three wins en route to a runner-up finish in the series last year behind McLaren-backed Stoffel Vandoorne.

Rossi has recently signalled he’s edging closer to securing his place in the British team.

“Talks are every day. I think the deadline is really when cars roll in Barcelona in a couple of weeks," he told Sky Sports.

“Things sometimes get pushed out in this sport and it is something I am used to and hopefully it doesn’t go on to much longer. Things are looking positive and hopefully we get it done very soon.”

Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein is also in the frame. The young German is the current Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters champion and touted as a future replacement for either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton.

With the Mercedes team keen to get the 21-year-old some F1 experience, a deal with Manor would make perfect sense, particularly considering the team is using the German manufacturer's engines for this season.

His chances were given a boost by Kevin Magnussen’s appointment at Renault but should another driver present a more tempting package to Manor, it seems Wehrlein would likely lose out.

Indonesia's Rio Haryanto is one candidate threatening to sneak in at the last minute.

The GP2 driver has been seeking the necessary backing to be considered for a drive, though according to some reports, time is running out for the three-time winner in the F1 feeder series.

Then there's Will Stevens. The Brit has been quiet in terms of discussing where his future lies, but given his experience and sufficient backing, he must also be taken into consideration.

Rossi - Wehrlein pairing the way to go

Based on credentials, a Rossi - Wehrlein pairing would make the most sense.

Both have proven talent and would bring their own financial benefits, so their selection seems a no-brainer – especially if Manor want to be taken seriously.

There won’t be an enormous amount of pressure on whoever is stood beside the car at the launch prior to the first test drive. But with Manor out to prove they aren't simply making up the numbers in F1, their progress will be an interesting story to follow in 2016.

Which pairing should Manor select for the 2016 season? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!

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Will Stevens
Formula 1
Manor Marussia

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