Manor unlikely to run at all in Melbourne

Manor F1 Team Melbourne

The 2015 Formula 1 season is off to a stuttering start in Melbourne, with only 8 of the 10 teams actually firing up their engines in Friday free practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

Sauber is embroiled in the Giedo van der Garde chaos, while the engines at resurrected Manor stayed silent for entirely different reasons.

After its computers were wiped clean for sale amid administration, Manor is now in frantic talks with engine supplier Ferrari to re-install crucial data that will allow the complex ‘power units’ to even be fired up.

“Just because we’re here doesn’t mean you just turn the key and go,” boss Graeme Lowdon told Britain’s Sky.

Roberto Merhi

It is rumoured Manor’s operational issues are so complex the team may not be ready to turn a wheel for several races.

“We just have to keep working through methodically,” said Lowdon, who said Manor will do its “absolute best” to be able to qualify and race in Melbourne.

As the other cars practiced on Friday, Manor confirmed: “Today is effectively our first day of testing”.

So even if the software problems can be resolved, the team is facing a shopping list of other problems. There are rumours the British government is still pursuing the team for unpaid taxes.

Will Stevens

Other speculation suggests Ferrari is also pushing for bills to be paid. And then there is the matter of the hurriedly-modified 2014 car, powered by the similarly year-old Ferrari engine.

Asked if the 107 per cent qualifying rule might be a problem, driver Will Stevens admitted: “It depends how much faster the guys at the top have become.”

Winter testing suggests the field has moved forward by a factor of at least two seconds per lap.

“We’re going to do the best job we can,” said Stevens, “but whether that’s within 107pc or not I don’t know.”