NOT GIVING UP: Marussia, reborn as Manor GP, hopes to race in 2015 - provided it can cough up the R132-million deposit for a Ferrari engine. Image: AFP / Alexander Klein
BARCELONA, Spain - While the hills north of Barcelona echoed to the sound of turbo V6 engines on Thursday (Feb 19 2015) behind-the-scenes developments were also making noise.
Force India at last began its winter programme at the Circuit de Catalunya, 30km from this Mediterranean port city, but only with its 2014 cars and Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein at the wheel.
Wehrlein was called up by his works employer to replace an ill Lewis Hamilton, leaving race regular Sergio Perez to step into his 2014 cockpit -mainly for Pirelli tyre tests. The really important action was apparently occurring behind the scenes.
VJM08 'PASSED ALL CRASH TESTS'
Germany's Auto Motor and Sport reported that Force India had "passed all the crash tests" with its delayed 2015 car, the VJM08. Correspondent Michael Schmidt said: "The second chassis has been completed and approved by the International Automobile Federation. All the dynamic and static crash-tests have been passed."
Schmidt's report dispelled any lingering fear that Force India might be missing at the season-opening 2015 Australian GP in Melbourne.
MANOR MOTORSPORT REBORN
He also commented on financially struggling Marussia: "...it gets even better. Marussia has arranged a crash test for early March with a car complying with the 2015 rules".
Marussia and Caterham each went into administration at end of the 2014 season. Marussia still remains on the’s provisional entry list for 2015 season under the name Manor Grand Prix. That doesn't mean the reborn Manor team's troubles are over: Ferrari has apparently told the tail-ender team that it will only deliver its turbo V6 engines after a deposit equivalent to R132-million has been paid.
Schmidt continued: "Marussia cannot miss any more races. The agreement with its rights-holders is that a team can miss a maximum of three races through 2020."
Marussia sat out of the final three races of 2014 - Texas, Brazil and Abu Dhabi - so technically it must be in Melbourne in less than a month.
Schmidt said: "Experts believe that is impossible."