Manor F1 team now 'actually competing' with rivals for first time

Manor racing director Dave Ryan claims there is "a fantastic feeling" within the team as it finally proves it can be competitive in Formula 1

Manor F1 team now 'actually competing' with rivals for first time

A Mercedes engine deal and significant chassis improvements have brought considerable strides at Manor, which toiled at the back in 2015 after its last-minute rescue from administration.

In last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, Pascal Wehrlein outqualified both Saubers, both Renaults and a Force India by taking 16th.

He then ran as high as seventh as pitstop strategies unfolded in the race, proving competitive with the cars he had beaten in qualifying, before finishing 13th.

"It's just a fantastic feeling to be actually competing and looking around at cars and thinking 'We've got him, we've got him'," said Ryan, who remains aware the team has to keep its feet on the ground.

"We just have to take little steps at a time. We made a reasonable step in Bahrain, and for the next race in China we have to consolidate, not get ahead of ourselves because as the old saying goes 'one swallow doesn't make a summer'.

"We have to make this a process we carry through, and we have to learn how to operate at this level as a team."

Ryan feels the performance gain from the opener in Australia to Bahrain was already substanial.

Wehrlein had headed the Saubers, Valtteri Bottas's Williams and the Haas after a fast start in Melbourne but fell back to finish 16th.

"I'm really pleased for the team as we've come a long way since Melbourne," said Ryan, when asked by Autosport about how Manor had so far fared.

"We did a good job there, but it was our first race, with all the wobbles that go with it, and to see the progress everyone has made, both in the garage and the way we are operating, the way the drivers are responding, it's just terrific.

"We feel it's a good reward for the work that has gone in.

"Obviously we needed to improve the car from where we were in Melbourne, and we have; we needed to improve how we operate as a team, and we have."

Although effectively the man in charge, Ryan does not take too much credit for the upturn.

"Essentially if you've a good core of people it's about listening to them, working with, and letting them see how it can be different," he said.

"Everyone knows what they have to do, and if they don't then it's a question of working with them.

"You don't want everyone running around like busy fools. You want them to be doing the job they are here to do.

"If we start doing things routinely then it all starts coming together."

HOW MANOR HAS IMPROVED

A comparison of Manor's last three Bahrain GPs puts its 2016 gains into perspective.

In 2014 it was in the best form of its previous Marussia era and would eventually score points in Monaco with Jules Bianchi, while the '15 Sakhir race came early in a season compromised by its near-closure in the winter.

 2014 2015 2016 Gap to pole  4.125s 6.142s 3.313s Gap to fastest lap  4.805s 5.448s 0.966s Highest pos during race 17th 16th 7th Cars behind at finish  None* None Sauber, Force India 

* Jenson Button's McLaren was officially classified behind Bianchi's Marussia in 2014, but had retired before the finish

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