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Another good day for Manor as former Ferrari aero chief joins the F1 team
Manor F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jan 2016   |  5:44 pm GMT  |  44 comments

If Manor makes as much progress on the race track in 2016 as it has made in hiring staff in recent times, then this will be a team to keep an eye on.

The latest news is that Nikolas Tombazis is to join the team to head the aerodynamics department with immediate effect. He will report to technical director John McQuilliam, another veteran engineer.

Tombazis has top level experience at both McLaren and Ferrari and prior to that worked under Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne at Benetton in the early 1990s. He has enjoyed extensive spells at all the teams when they were winning and is another, along with Dave Ryan, the former McLaren Sporting Director, who knows what it takes.

Like Ryan’s at McLaren, the end of Tombazis’ Ferrari career came under a cloud as he was sacked in 2014 as part of the cull when the team badly under -performed. He had been chief designer on all the Alonso Ferraris as well as the Raikkonen championship winning 2007 car.

Nikolas Tombazis

History tells us that Ferrari sackings do not spell the end for talented engineers; Aldo Costa was sacked after taking over from Ross Brawn as Ferrari technical director, but has reappeared at Mercedes and is behind the car that has dominated F1 for the past two seasons.

Having been dragged out of receivership just over 12 months ago and stabilised financially by Irish entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick, the Manor team now finds itself heading into 2016 with a current Mercedes engine, Williams gearbox and back end as well as a technical collaboration with the Grove squad.

It exists on the prize money won by Jules Bianchi with his 9th place finish in Monaco 2014, which remain the team’s only F1 points. But it means that they get $50m for a minimum of three years, added to which they have started to add sponsor income and funding from drivers.

The two Manor seats are yet to be filled for 2016 and are more attractive seats now than last year. Ryo Haryanto has been linked with one seat, while Pascal Wehrlein’s name has also been linked with the team thanks to his Mercedes backing. However Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has appeared reluctant to put significant financial backing behind his latest protege.

The engine alone will be worth around 2 seconds compared to the 2014 Ferrari engine they used last season, while the aerodynamics were basic, but workable on last year’s car and there are thus straight forward gains to made as the team gets to work in the wind tunnel.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 17.40.04

McQuilliam said: “This appointment will help to amplify the efforts of a very talented design team that, in recent years, has not had the opportunity to showcase the full extent of their experience and capabilities. I am confident that, together with our new Mercedes power unit and Williams gearbox and technical partnership, our new aero structure will provide us with the strength to design and develop consistently competitive racing cars to help steer us towards our long-term ambitions.”

Tombazis added: “I am very happy to be joining the Manor F1 Team at this exciting time in its development. The team has impressive plans and is investing in all the right areas to achieve its on-track ambitions, so I am very much looking forward to being part of that journey. The existing design team is already very strong and I look forward to working with a great group of people to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead to help us progress through the field over the next few seasons.”

Where do you think Manor will finish in the Constructors’ championship this season? Take part in our poll and leave your comment below

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“It exists on the prize money won by Jules Bianchi with his 9th place finish in Monaco 2014, which remain the team’s only F1 points. But it means that they get $50m for a minimum of three years…”

I think a lot of us have this feeling that Jules left to soon to realize what might have been an extraordinary career, and beyond that, a positive legacy that stood out amongst his peers.

In securing 9th place in Monaco, he may have accomplished just that. Imagine if Manor builds itself into a team regularly competing in the points and beyond; all of which would be the result of what Jules accomplished.

It’s already incredible to think about. So many people who are still employed, and with a much brighter future, thanks to one racer and a 9th place finish.


James, is not there a mistake in title of article ” FOR MANOR AS FORMER FERRARI AERO CHIEF” …wasn’t he ex Ferrari Design chief than aero chief?


If they end up with decent divers they could challenge Renault and Sauber? Haas? Anyway it should be the first season in a long time with no mobile chicanes. Excellent.


Some people are just born to be an extremely good number 2. In this case, who would employ him, plus he is coming back in the aero role, not as a Chief Designer role. So maybe his best role – work is in the aero side of things. Yes he brings in big team – winning ways, which can help.

Plus he would not cost that much, as this could be the only real offer on the table for him if he wanted to stay in F1. I have noticed that Manor is bringing back a lot of very experienced – seasoned professional people with a lot of experience. If one ties that into a bunch of young hungry up and coming (Cheap) engineers that you may have the foundations of a good team.

I think they will surprise us, but let’s see who they get to drive, and what the car looks like just out of the box during testing. That will tell us a lot about where we think they may finish in 2016.

Budget wise, I think they can do the year on about $75M or so. Given that they are getting in $50M from Bernie, then the rest can be found via sponsors and drivers. The PU unit should give them hope for a few point scoring days, which means more money from Bernie, plus I think they could be the surprise package of 2016. We are all expecting the Ferrari “B” team to be mid field running, which just leaves, the Enstone and McLaren and Sauber, maybe Force India fighting it out at the back.


In my opinion”

Nicholas Tombazis isn’t a top team material. He is not a brilliant engineer. He is just a good engineer with experience.

2007 and 2008 Ferraris had Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne (Still with very effective role) and Aldo Costa signatures. The foundation of those cars was by them.

Nicholas Tombazis can fit perfectly to midfield teams like Manor. He has the much needed experience.


No denying having a guy with experience in a top team is good to have. Its always a question of how he fits in at Manor. Ferrari had a chassis that was aerodynamically weaker than all the other 3 top teams for some years and whilst the wind tunnel had a large part to do with that the F14T was not very good either. I can see why Ferrari let him go.. But perhaps it could be a blessing for Tombazis as he can redifine himself outside the pressure cooker that is Ferrari. Comparisons to Aldo Costa are rather mute though because Mercedes isnt exactly a resource and takent limited team is it. The question for Nicholas is whether he can find his creative skills in a very hands on small team. Could be liberating.. Could be debilitating


He’s no Newey, but one presumes the margins for improvement at Manor are far greater than the pointy end of the grid. Plenty of low hanging fruit for Nicholas to pick….


Call me poor but €50million x3 seems like a helluva lotta money for one 9th position.

How much does Merc get for their points haul? Surely points to prize money is not a linear equation. Even Bernie couldn’t afford that!

It’s great to see some serious development of this team; all riding on Bianchi’s result is a fitting tribute.


looks like james has a live view of us typing and able to block selected posts. no wonder many have complained about vanishing posts..



Comments solution is at hand. We’re beta testing it at the moment. Shouldn’t be too long


Hope the Beta testing is successful James.

As it is a bit hit &:miss in posting a comment…at times but still a brilliant F1 forum.


“History tells us that Ferrari sackings do not spell the end for talented engineers; Aldo Costa was sacked after taking over from Ross Brawn as Ferrari technical director, but has reappeared at Mercedes and is behind the car that has dominated F1 for the past two seasons.”

So what does that say about Ferrari if they are sacking quality engineers?


“So what does that say about Ferrari if they are sacking quality engineers? “

It implies that success isn’t limited to a single metric.


That sometimes, change for the sake of change, is worthwhile irrespective of the quality of the constituent components. The Chelsea / Mourinho sacking being a prime example for football aficionados.


Jock Clear goes to Ferrari

Nicholas Tombazis goes the other way.

I assume with their Mercedes engines & Mercedes input this team will be in the Sauber Force India region with Haas. Which makes the Middle F1 scene look very competitive.


I think we need to keep expectations in check; Enstone team (Aka Lotus, Renault, etc etc) had the Merc engine last year and made it look pretty anonymous most of the time.

I hope they have some good fortune, good work and plenty of success and show a finger to all the doubters that would have happily seen them fall off the grid.

Ps.. not sure if a previous post made it ?! Its nice to see the ‘waiting moderation’ box come up but often does not, puzzling…


I’ve always had respect for Manor, especially this year just passed as it was incredible that they manged to get through a whole season on such a shoe string. They kept fighting, even though they had the 2014 Ferrari power unit, they battled on.

I was never a big fan of Tombazis, but I think Manor will make a good leap forward.

You mentioned Costa in the article, how Ferrari must be kicking themselves….. letting him go, and then he designs that Merc.


This is a priceless example of how revamping the money handout can have such a dramatic effect. What are the big teams all afraid of exactly? that if Manor and Sauber get a bit more money they will steal the show? Hardly think so but we would have a healthier more competitive sport and better racing, and they may just be able to afford to put a power unit in the car.

That just one result can keep Manor going and mean as much as it does is testament to the shameful failings of the power brokers.

Wake up, Grow up, and Step up CVC.. FIA.. FOM..


Glad to see Manor selecting the right person I wish them luck they are going in right direction, as a team I like their attitude to do what they were here to do proper racing however they do not have fund/tools to do that still none of them complain about it.

After selecting Tombazis I wish they go for good drivers rather Pay drivers……. I understand team need Good driver with financial backing as well if Palmer dropped by Renault I wish to see him driving in this team as he has very less pressure in such small team and he can get the experience here.

James could you confirm after having a test driver contract with McLaren can he still drive for Manor?


Yes it’s no like football you can switch teams a song as the one you leave doesn’t contest

In that case it ends up in contract recognition board


sorry forget to add name Vandoorne 🙂


I think this appointment has more to do with 2017 than 2016 as the basis of this year’s car has already been started, kind of like the situation james Allinson has found at Ferrari last year where the groundwork was already done leaving just the teaks during development of upgrades.


The poor guy had nowhere else to go. BUT it’s also a great ‘challenge’ and good to start from scratch (no offence to what the team had achieved so far) so Good For Him! Hope he enjoys it.


Understandingly, corporate reasoning is sometimes difficult to understand when viewed from the outside and through the lens of “the media” comments and camera. But that’s what fans have to depend on.

However, sure seems that Ferrari and Co., follow the “what have you done for me lately” philosophy – even when the results and evidence therefrom run counter to that principle. Such as their current “success” with the most recent design from Tombazis’ guidance has shown.

Good luck with the new challenge.


Hopefully, this means a more competitive field. It would be great to see Manor fighting in the midfield and have Haas not anchoring the rear, too. It seems doubtful the hirings will have immediate impact on the car, but the addition of the Merc engine will certainly help.


I hope so too 🙂

In some ways they have the advantage – They’ve been back-markers for so long that there’s virtually no expectation for them to succeed.

If they come last in 2016 that’s just Manor being Manor, but if they step it up and finish one or two places higher then they will have outdone themselves 🙂


Just goes to show how fast you have to run, financially, just to relatively stand still in F1. Great spirit as a team but destined to be the perennial back markers I suspect.


If this team will be last, it might as well do it with a gap of 0.00001 seconds than a team last by 10 minutes. It might as well put up a fight and scare the likes of Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso, maybe Haas F1 and dare I say Mclaren if they don’t get their act together.

People love an underdog and I’m rooting for them. They just need a couple of good drivers who are talented and have a likeable charm about the entire operation.

On a side note, I would love to gain insight into how an F1 team develops it’s package or even begin a new package from the ground up (obviously signing all the NDA agreements).


Not if McHonda have anything to say about it 😉


Hoping this team moves forward now. I like independent teams, and like seeing Force India, Sauber and hopefully Manor upset the apple cart a wee bit is good for F1 in my book.

Just a quick question for you guys regarding independent teams, do you see Williams and McLaren as an independent teams. Don’t know why, but I’ve always seen them on the same level as a constructor team. Maybe a hybrid team, weird.


I’ve always thought of them more as a manufacturer type team. They pretty much have been, Mclaren was effectly a Mercedes works team between 1996 and 2010. Williams the same with Renault and latterly BMW although recently I suppose they have returned to being more like an independent. Both are integral to the history and prestige of f1 and need to be successful.


Williams is still nowhere near Mclaren in terms of budget or resources. Further more, Williams had a similar budget to FI in 2015.

(points by Brazilian GP)


NickH, are you sure you correct regarding McLaren’s budget? Every budget assessment I have seen has McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes spending very similar amounts.


McLaren no longer have the budget of Ferrari, Mercedes and RB who can spend £200m+ no problem. They’re ahead of Williams, though.


Ferrari / Mercedes / Renault – Manufacturer Teams

McLaren Honda – Works Constructor

Williams / Red Bull / Manor etc – Customer Constructors


I don’t think of them as constructors, but I do see them as an integral part of F1 – They’ve both been hugely successful F1 teams who have been around for a long time.


@ chris….yes they are independent teams like red bull are an independent team. there are only three teams who are fully manufacturers teams…ferrari, mercedes and renault.


Manor will score points at more than one race, but not finish in the top 10.


I would agree. They’ll still be last, but will close the gap to the pack considerably.


And that, in itself, is a laudable achievement given that they were effectively flat-lining a short while back….


I think it unlikely that a 2016 Mercedes PU is going to come last!


Hmmm. The offseason program makes me wonder if we have a new Toleman (especially given the Benneton connection…) coming to the fore. I’ll say they come 8th, with a couple of bottom-end points finishes to do it. If things get really crazy, maybe as high as 7th.


It going to be interesting to watch the team develop.

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