MARCH 15, 2015

Merhi hoping to keep Manor seat for Malaysia

Roberto Merhi is hoping to keep his Manor race seat for Malaysia.

The Spanish rookie was nominated by the resurrected former Marussia team to race in Melbourne, but Manor ultimately did not even turn a wheel.

"I assure you that we have not paid to be here," Merhi's father and namesake said in Melbourne.

But Spain's El Mundo now reports that Manor is asking Merhi, 23, to find EUR 2 million to keep the race seat in 2015.

Manor was summoned by the FIA after qualifying to explain its failure to even attempt to qualify in Melbourne.

Amid scepticism about the real reasons for Manor's engine silence, the FIA investigated the matter and found that the explanation about deleted software was true.

Merhi snr insisted: "The project is viable. We have been assured."

El Mundo said Merhi's father is now planning a series of meetings with potential Spanish sponsors, including the supermarket chain Mercadona.

Merhi told Spain's AS newspaper he is "fairly confident" he will be back in action in Malaysia in two weeks.

"The team is like a family," he said. "They have treated me very well this weekend.

"Today I am a team driver, so in Malaysia we will be participating.

"The car was prepared at the last minute and super-late efforts were made, but it was a miracle that we even came here.

"We didn't drive, it's a shame, but the team is working hard to stay on the track for Malaysia.

"We didn't do the pre-season tests, so the first race is in Malaysia. Hopefully we can be on track and do a good job," Merhi added.