Manor team principal John Booth says Roberto Merhi will return to compete in the Russian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, as successor Alexander Rossi focusses on his GP2 Series title bid.
The Spaniard made his F1 debut with the British squad in Australia, although he had to wait until Sepang to actually turn a wheel in anger following Manor’s no-show at Melbourne.
Merhi’s initial contract was believed to encompass only the first four flyaways, but then evolved into a race-by-race deal. The 24-year-old managed to keep his seat up until Manor announced Rossi would replace him at Singapore this weekend.
“We are pleased to support [Rossi]’s current GP2 commitments while he continues to battle for the championship win,” said Booth. “Therefore he will race in five of the seven remaining Grands Prix this season, with Roberto [Merhi] contesting Russia and Abu Dhabi for us.
“While Roberto is obviously disappointed, he understands that this decision is in the long-term interests of the team and we thank him for his professionalism. No decision has been made regarding our 2016 driver line-up and we will continue to evaluate our options during the remainder of the season.”
When not in action, Merhi will step down to a reserve driver role alongside 2013 GP2 Series champion Fabio Leimer. Prior to his replacement, Merhi had been dovetailing his Manor F1 drive with a Formula Renault 3.5 Series campaign at Pons Racing, though he had recently decided to call time on the latter programme.
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