Malaysian GP: Manor F1 drivers Stevens and Merhi expect to qualify

Manor Formula 1 duo Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi are confident their car has the pace to qualify for the Malaysian Grand Prix following its track debut in practice

Malaysian GP: Manor F1 drivers Stevens and Merhi expect to qualify

After failing to leave the garage in Australia, Stevens and Merhi were finally able to get some mileage under their belts on Friday at Sepang.

Stevens' best practice time was within 107 per cent - the margin required in Q1 to ensure qualification - of pacesetter Lewis Hamilton's lap, raising the Manor duo's confidence.

"Judging from today, we were inside by one second," he said. "I would like to think as a group we can improve overnight and tomorrow.

"If you had to ask me now, would I think we would be outside [the cut-off]? I would say no, as we already are within 107 per cent.

"We will see come qualifying, but at the moment it is fine."

Merhi, who had a spin as he got to grips with his new car, pointed out that even if Manor does not achieve the required pace in qualifying it could get dispensation as it has managed that performance in practice.

When asked if he was confident of being able to qualify, he said: "In a way we already did because if you are inside 107 per cent in one of the sessions you can do the race.

"I am more than confident because I think we have more to improve, especially on the driving side, than the others.

"We didn't have any pre-season testing. We came here and did an installation lap and it's hard.

"I think I have a lot to improve myself, and also the team because it's our first day."

Merhi was half a second adrift of the 107 per cent time in both Friday practice sessions.

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Malaysian GP Friday press conference
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