FIA tells Manor to explain qualifying absence

Mar.14 (GMM) Manor has been summoned by the FIA to explain its failure to even attempt to qualify for the 2015 season opener.

Team chief Graeme Lowdon said the former Marussia team, having only exited administration weeks ago, elected to travel to Australia rather than wait for Malaysia where it might have been more prepared to run.

Citing software issues due to computers that were wiped to be sold in auction, Manor has worked throughout the Melbourne race weekend but ultimately failed even to fire up its 2014-spec Ferrari engines.

“It’s not simply a software issue,” said Lowdon, “there are a lot of issues.

“I think it’s really important to be here,” he added. “This is the championship we’re part of, and we want to be part of it from the start right the way through to the finish.”

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, however, said Manor had to turn up this weekend, having already sat out the last three races of 2014.

“They can miss three races per contract,” he told the Independent, “so they would be history if they miss any more.”

It is with that in mind, therefore, that Manor was summoned by the FIA on the evening after qualifying to explain the team’s failure to even attempt to run on Friday and Saturday.

The FIA demanded “a written statement explaining why the team did not participate in qualifying … after receiving a letter from the FIA on 20 February”.

It is not known what the FIA’s earlier letter said.

But paddock rumours throughout the weekend have suggested Manor, perhaps bidding solely for its millions in 2014 prize money, never intended to try to qualify in Melbourne.

Indeed, despite insisting it was working through a long list of tasks to get the cars up and running, Manor did not, for instance, apply to break the overnight paddock ‘curfew’.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said it has seen only one nose and front wing assembly all weekend, amid rumours Manor does not even have a supply of fuel in Australia.

Team boss John Booth denies it.

“I can understand the scepticism,” he said.

“But if we came here not intending to run, we wouldn’t have brought 40 people and 30 tonnes of equipment. And we would not have fully met our obligations to suppliers such as Pirelli and Ferrari,” Booth added.

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