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.
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.
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.”
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