EXCITING PROSPECT: Roberto Mehri says he can't wait for his F1 debut. Image: Shutterstock / Oskar Schuler.
• Merhi to race for Manor Marussia
• Second Spanish rookie on grid
• Drove in Formula Renault series
LONDON, England - Spaniard Roberto Merhi will make his Formula 1 race debut in Australia this weekend after the revived Manor Marussia team named him in their line-up for the season-opener.
The team said the 23-year-old, who will partner Britain's Will Stevens in Melbourne, would compete in the opening rounds of the season.
What happens after that remains unclear with Merhi only recently agreeing a deal to return to the Renault 3.5 series that starts in late April.
Marussia has been more focused on securing its immediate survival than any long-term planning with the England-based team only recently emerging from administration after missing the final three races of 2014.
Britain's Jordan King, 21-year-old son of the team's interim chairman and former Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King, was also appointed as a development driver while also competing in GP2.
"It is fantastic to welcome Roberto and Jordan to the team," said team boss John Booth of an announcement that came only days before first practice at Albert Park."Not only are they very talented young drivers but each has an exciting futures ahead. They were 'graduates' of Manor Motorsport in the junior formulas."
Merhi, who raced with Manor in the F3 Euroseries in 2009 and finished third in 2014's year's Formula Renault 3.5 Series, will be the second Spanish rookie on the grid in Melbourne; Carlos Sainz is driving for Toro Rosso.
STEPPING UP TO THE GRID
Spain's most successful driver, double F1 champion Fernando Alonso, will be absent because of his crash during testing in Spain in February 2015.
Merhi took part in three Friday free-practice sessions with now-defunct Caterham in 2015. He said he was excited to be stepping up to the grid.
"It's a big responsibility but I feel ready to make this step in my career and to show that I can make an important contribution to developing a team," he said.
Marussia will start the season with a revised 2014 car, tweaked to meet 2015 safety regulations, and that year's Ferrari power unit.
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