Manor F1 Team have signed former GP2 champion Fabio Leimer as a reserve driver. The deal will see Leimer get behind the wheel of the Manor car in Friday practice sessions.
The Swiss driver won the series in 2013, but a deal never emerged for him to compete in Formula One despite the fact that he won the championship by a large gap of 20 points; a large margin in a series where all the drivers are on an equal playing field thanks to all the cars being of the same design.
“I’m thrilled to be provided with this opportunity and I’d like to thank the Manor Marussia F1 Team for the faith they have shown in my ability,” said Leimer, “In particular I’m very excited to have the chance to drive the car in selected FP1s, but I am also looking forward to spending a lot of time trackside with the team, contributing my observations and experience in engineering situations and also learning about the team and a Formula 1 operation.
“It’s a huge step for me and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully reward the team’s confidence in me.”
Leimer would also be in the cockpit in the event that Will Stevens or Roberto Merhi are unable to compete in a Grand Prix; a scenario that is very possible in the case of Merhi, who was only signed for the start of the season due to his continued appearances in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 season.
“We’re delighted to welcome Fabio to our team. We always keep a close eye on drivers competing in the feeder series and their potential for making the step up to Formula 1,” said team principal John Booth, “Fabio has been on that radar for a number of years, so we’re pleased to give him the opportunity to progress as he is a very talented driver and certainly deserving of this opportunity.”
“Fabio will be joining us at selected races for the rest of the season, contributing to engineering meetings and on hand to substitute for either race driver should they be unable to compete at any stage. Familiarity with the car is therefore important, so we plan to run Fabio in a number of opening free practice sessions this season, allowing us to further evaluate his potential.”