Ryan confident new Manor is ‘huge step forward’

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Manor racing director Dave Ryan is confident the Mercedes-powered MRT05 represents “a huge step forward”, as F1 rookies Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto prepare for their maiden grand prix start.

The small British outfit underwent a major personnel overhaul over the winter, with former bosses John Booth and Graeme Lowdon out at the end of 2015 while former Ferrari men Nicholas Tombazis and Pat Fry arrived in January.

But the biggest change comes from the car itself, as Manor switched from a year-old Ferrari supply to the latest Mercedes power unit while also introducing its first new chassis in two years. Despite a few niggling issues in pre-season testing, Ryan, who last worked in F1 at McLaren in 2009, is pleased with the early signs.

“It was pretty positive,” he said. “The car ran well out of the box and we’re happy with the progress we made over the duration of the test.

“The MRT05 is a huge step forward from the car we had last year but as always, until we get out on the same track at the same time as everyone else, we won’t really know just how much of an improvement it is.

“We know we’ve made an improvement in every area over the 2015 car, so that’s the starting point, but we also know we need to improve operationally.”

With Wehrlein and Haryanto making their debut at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the MRT05’s true potential might only become more visible once the all-rookie pairing have find their feet. Ryan has no doubts about his drivers’ talent though, and encourages them to enjoy the moment in Melbourne.

“They’re just the right mix of excited and focused. Although they’re pretty young, they’ve been racing a long time, so they know what to expect.

“There’s a lot of interest from media and fans; and quite right too, they’ve worked hard to get here. It’s always very satisfying to see talented drivers making the step up and I’m sure they’ll find some time to savour the experience. It’s a big deal for them.”

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