2016 was promised to be a better year for Manor, and it certainly was. From back markers with a year old car in 2015, they emerged stronger with a current Mercedes engine and a car which was a year in development.
It was all change on the driver front as well. Will Stevens departed to the World Endurance championship, along with Roberto Merhi, with American Alexander Rossi heading stateside to Indycar and winning the Indy 500 at his first attempt.
Inbound came Indonesian Rio Haryanto from GP2, coming with finance from his homeland in Indonesia and Pascal Wherlein effectively on loan from Mercedes. Surprisingly the pair we’re evenly matched, Haryanto more than capable of holding his own against his much more favoured teammate. Organised, they were more than a match for Sauber in the early part of the season as the Swiss team were heading off financial problems, eventually changing mid season which would end up being critical for Manor.
The hard work paid off though, with Pascal Wehrlein getting only the second points finish in the history of the team, keeping them ahead of Sauber in the Constructors Championship. That was of course until the second to last race of the year, in difficult conditions in Brazil, with Felipe Nasr taking two points for Sauber and lifting them ahead of Manor in the standings.
Wehrlein wasn’t perfect though, a surprise for some, which came to a head in Austin. In the gravel he refused to turn his engine off in the gravel, much to the dismay of his team in a season where engine mileage has been critical. You only have to look at fellow Mercedes clas Lewis Hamilton, where an engine failure in Malaysia effectively ended his championship hopes. Such selfish action by the German could have also been a deciding factor in why he didn’t get the Force India drive for 2017, which was given to teammate Ocon.
Rio Haryanto didn’t see out the season either, money running out from Indonesia in the middle of the season, with Mercedes drafting in Esteban Ocon. He was Renaults official reserve driver, and was at times faster than Wehrlein, despite the lack of track time in the Manor. That wasn’t to say that it was easy for him, taller than most drivers he struggled to even fit in the car, with the team having to make adjustments to make it comfortable to drive.
As the season came to an end, the question of a sale return as the team once again ended at the bottom of the standings. Despite being talked about for 18 months, that person is said to be Tavo Hellmund, the man who brought back both the United States and Mexican Grand Prix. The deal looks to be moving along though, which could see something different for 2017, and that might also depend on Mercedes.