Read too quickly and you may believe this is a story about Sauber and Monisha Kaltenborn, however Finnish publication – Ilta-Sanomat – is reporting Manor F1 are set to recruit more than two F1 race drivers for 2016.
Mercedes have secured one of the seats already for their young driver Pascal Wehrlein in a deal that sees Manor being offered wind tunnel time from Brackley.
This leaves, Indonesian government-backed Rio Haryanto, American Alexander Rossi and Brit Will Stevens who have all been under consideration for a 2016 drive by the Manor team. Each of these drivers brings substantial sponsorship money and the rumour is that the second car may well be raced by all three drivers during the year.
This may sound a strange arrangement but Article 26.1 of the FIA F1 sporting regulations states, “During a season, each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Any new driver may score points in the championship.”
The deal under consideration apparently provides for each of the three drivers to take 7 races each during the 21 race long season. Haryanto would drive in Asia, Stevens in Europe and Rossi for the races in the Americas plus three others.
As a contrast to the three drivers under consideration, Pascal Wehrlein admitted when announced last week, “I don’t bring any money.”
Gene Haas may believe his new team will be the surprise of the season given the backing he has received from Ferrari, however if Toto Wolff is to be believed Manor may be springing a few surprises of their own in 2016. “Manor will make a big step up and not only because of the engine. I have confidence that the car and driver will have highlights and be a solid midfield runner,” said the Mercedes team boss.
Besides their Mercedes power unit, Manor have agreed to receive a substantial level of technical support from Williams.