Drivers: Esteban Ocon – 23th, 0 points; Rio Haryanto – 24rd, 0 points; Pascal Wehrlein – 19th, 1 point
Best grid position: 12th – Wehrlein, Austria
Best race result: 10th – Wehrlein, Austria
2016 World Constructors Championship Position (2015, 2014): 11th (10th, 9th)
2015 was nothing but a year of survival for the Manor F1 Team, but 2016 brought promise with an array of key personnel changes, the coveted Mercedes power unit and at least one very capable driver within their ranks, on paper 2016 could well have seen Manor return to at least where they were in 2014, if not even more competitive.
Manor F1 2016 Review
Manor entered the season with two F1 rookies – Rio Haryanto, who achieved little in four years of GP2 and two years of GP3, but had extensive knowledge of the tricky Pirelli tyre, and Pascal Wehrlein, on the back of winning the DTM championship, and with a lot of knowledge of Mercedes’ F1 cars.
It was clear from the first race of the season at Australia that Manor was not there to just make the numbers up in 2016. Both Haryanto and Wehrlein were less than a tenth behind the next car in qualifying, and Wehrlein finished the race only one lap down, instead of multiple laps which was oh so common in 2015.
As the season progressed, Manor was frequently able to fight the likes of Sauber and Renault, and occasionally Haas, Toro Rosso and McLaren. Manor produced a car which was very quick in a straight line – not surprising given what was pushing it along, and also had a decent amount of mechanical grip. The car lacked in downforce, which cost them dear on a lot of circuits, but at the likes of Red Bull Ring, Monza, Spa and Mexico City, they were more than just backmarkers.
Austria provided the highlight of the season for the team. Wehrlein, on a circuit he knows very well from his DTM days, was able to produce his best qualifying and race results of the season, and through late retirements, single-handedly put Manor ahead of Sauber in the championship with a solitary point scored. That was until the Brazilian Grand Prix, where despite Ocon putting in a stunning drive to 12th, they had no answer for the Sauber of Felipe Nasr, who finished ninth.
On Saturdays, Haryanto and Wehrlein were fairly good matches for each other, but Wehrlein absolutely thwarted his fellow rookie on Sundays, going unbeaten until Haryanto was dropped during the summer break due to a lack of funding. His replacement would be Mercedes, Force India and Renault tester Esteban Ocon.
Ocon immediately showed himself as a stronger challenge to Wehrlein than Haryanto was, even beating him at the daunting Suzuka circuit and in treacherous conditions at Interlagos. Ocon’s lanky frame however, was initially an issue for the Frenchman, and only started to feel properly comfortable once the car had been adjusted for him.
All in all 2016 has been perhaps the most competitive season yet for Manor – a lack of downforce hurting them on certain tracks but very much flirtatious with the field on a number of circuits. This will make Manor a more attractive option for the future in terms of acquiring engineers and so forth. Losing out to Sauber in the dying moments of the season will be hugely costly in terms of finances, but it should be expected that Manor will survive the winter at the very least.
Manor’s driver line-up is not confirmed as of yet, but it could be likely that the team starts 2017 with the same pairing that they started 2016 with.