One day after this site posted the results of the fan poll to see who they would like to see drive for Manor in 2016. Germany media outlet AMUS has today reported that it is Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto who are now the favorites for the Manor 2016 drives.
The report states that Manor is now considered a much better option for drivers than in the past due to the new engine suppliers Mercedes and a host of new technical staff that includes former Ferrari men Pat Fry and Nicholas Tombazis. It adds that Manor are seeking to raise up to $20 million dollars from its driver combination and it is reported by AMUS that Rio Haryanto pledges to provide $17 million dollars through his personal sponsors and government backing.
AMUS states that the second choice at present, if Haryato provides his share of the fee is Pascal Wehrlein, who may only bring 4 million dollars. However Wehrlein is currently a Mercedes development driver and is very highly thought of by Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff who is keen to see Wehrlein gain F1 experience before he can be evaluated for a move to the Mercedes F1 team. With Manor currently about to begin their first season as a Mercedes engine customer, the addition of Wehrlein to the team may AMUS reports lead to further collaboration between the two teams which would grant Manor use their wind tunnel and simulator in Brackley and effectively becoming a Mercedes B-team.
In the short term, we at MRTFB HQ can see why this driver line-up makes sense for Manor. Haryanto provides secure funds to the team and the potential of new sponsors in a new market for F1. With finishing a minimum of 10th again this season estimated to be worth over 30 million dollars to Manor, a link up with Mercedes may help compete against the new team on the grid Haas who through its relationship with Ferrari threatens to be quick out of the blocks. If Manor can get a Haas relationship like with Ferrari from Mercedes plus £4m for Pascal plus £17m for Haryanto it will be sure to put the team on a steady financial and on track footing.
AMUS also reports that the team are also still in talks with Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi with Bernie Eccelstone believed to be keen to see an American driver on the grid for next season. Lastly, AMUS reports that Pastor Maldonado is not entirely out of the race yet, and is believed to have half of the sponsorship money given to him by PDSVA, believed to be around $10 million dollars.