Leimer in frame for second Manor seat

Mar.7 (GMM) 2013 GP2 champion Fabio Leimer has leapt into contention to complete this year’s formula one grid.

After conquering F1’s main feeder series, the 25-year-old Swiss was disappointed that, even with a strong sponsor in tow, he was not able to secure his grand prix debut last year.

“The formula one system is sick,” Leimer’s wealthy backer Rainer Gantenbein said at the time.

But his manager Stefan Meier, however, insisted: “If it does not work out for this season (2014), we will plan for 2015.”

As reigning GP2 champion, Leimer found refuge last year in world endurance sports cars.

And, some weeks ago, just as the former Marussia team was bidding to return as Manor in 2015, Leimer was linked with a seat.

But the Swiss newspaper Blick observed: “Fabio Leimer will instead race this year in Japan in the top Super Formula series.”

However, it suddenly emerged on Friday that Leimer’s deal with the Mugen team ended before a single wheel was turned, for contractual reasons.

Manor has already signed Will Stevens for 2015, and team president Graeme Lowdon now hints he is close to signing another rookie as well.

“Manor has always had a history of bringing great driving talent onto the grid and we really want to continue that,” he said.

“With regard to the second driver, hopefully we will be able to make an announcement pretty soon, which is kind of blindingly obvious considering that the (Australian) grand prix is not far off.

“All the time schedules have been incredibly compressed for us and the driver announcement is no different,” Lowdon added.

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