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'Nowhere to hide' for Manor in 2016 with Mercedes F1 engine deal

Manor sporting director Graeme Lowdon feels his team will have no place to hide when it takes on Mercedes power from the 2016 Formula 1 season

F1's minnow has signed a multi-year engine supply deal with the world championship dominating Mercedes that should propel the team closer to the midfield pack.

With a new-for-2016 chassis, plus transmission and suspension components from Williams, Manor will find itself on more of an even playing field with its rivals than it arguably has since it first entered F1 in 2010 as Virgin.

"It's a definite step forward because it's going to be a few seconds the aero guys don't have to find, and it's also a reliable package," Lowdon told AUTOSPORT.

"There is still a lot for us to do, but having a new car - chassis and engine - is a step in the right direction for us, without a doubt.

"You have to consider we've done virtually an entire season now with a car that was designed quite some time ago."

After being hauled out of administration shortly before the start of this season, Manor was given dispensation to run last year's chassis, albeit with 2015 safety modifications, and with a '14 Ferrari engine.

The difference in next year's car compared to this should be like night and day, offering Manor no excuses regarding its competitiveness for 2016.

"At the minute we've kind of got a place to hide, if you like. Right now it's quite easy to blame something on the engine, but that is removed," added Lowdon.

"Effectively we'll have the same engine, gearbox and rear suspension as Williams, so there is a benchmark there.

"Aerodynamically they are more mature than we are, but it will certainly be a big step forward."

Although talks with Mercedes have been ongoing for some time, Manor and the German manufacturer had to wait for another of the latter's customers in Lotus to resolve its future, with a return to becoming a Renault works team pending.

"It was obviously one of the worst-kept secrets going," said Lowdon.

"But in fairness, Mercedes wanted to make sure they weren't being rude to anybody with regard to Lotus' position until the situation was clearer.

"That has obviously happened, so it allowed them to announce the deal."

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