Motor racing-Manor thrilled to be back on track

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 27, 2015 6:57 AM

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - The troubled Manor Marussia Formula One team declared themselves back in business on Friday after returning to the track for the first time since plunging into administration last October.

Spanish rookie Roberto Merhi and Britain's Will Stevens completed 34 laps between them in practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix after failing to turn a wheel in the Australian season-opener two weeks ago.

"Obviously, we are thrilled to be back on track again, finally seeing all the hard work and determination paying off," said team principal John Booth.

"I’m very satisfied with what we have achieved today,"

Manor, who emerged from the ashes of the failed Marussia outfit that missed the last three races of 2014, were unable to take part in pre-season testing and only emerged from administration last month.

Their inability to get either car on track in Melbourne, blamed on computer software problems, drew an angry response after that weekend from Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The Briton told Reuters that Manor had no intention of competing in Australia and would have to pay their freight costs for the race.

Booth said Friday had been essentially a shakedown and hailed "a really good effort when one considers the problems teams typically encounter on the opening day of running a car.

"Of course, there is a huge amount of work still to be done, both here in Malaysia and ahead into the season, but we’ll take some reward from the day nonetheless.

"Most importantly, we are back doing what we do best -- racing," he added.

Merhi's session ended after six laps when he spun but Stevens had an untroubled day.

"It’s really nice to be back in a Formula One car," said the Briton, who raced for now-defunct Caterham in last year's Abu Dhabi season-ender.

"Considering how little running we have done, today is a really good step, ... we’re not under any illusions about the challenges that lie ahead though and we have a busy night in front of us to work through the data..."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Peter Rutherford)