MANOR TO SKIP OZ: Manor driver Will Stevens greets fans in Melbourne. The team won't participate at the 2015 Australian GP. Image: AP/ Ross Land
MELBOURNE, Australia - The struggling Manor Marussia Formula 1 team will skip the season-opening 2015 Australian GP after failing to make it onto the Melbourne track for qualifying.
The team struggled just to get its cars to Albert Park for the opening race but were unable to get either of them on the circuit due to a computer software problem.
The team sat out Friday's (March 13) two practice sessions as well as Saturday's final warm-up and the official qualifying session, making them ineligible for Sunday's (March 15) race.
Manor's sporting director Graeme Lowdon told Sky Television: "I think we made a lot of progress yesterday, in fact we made huge steps forward yesterday, but we are still hitting some problems.
"We're just going to run out of time. But one thing is for sure, the guys are not going to stop and they are just going to keep pushing as hard as they can until somebody says stop.
"We will keep pushing but we have still got some issues that we need to solve."
The cash-strapped team have been more focused on securing their immediate survival than any long-term planning, having missed the last three races of 2014.
It will be starting the season with a revised 2014 car, tweaked to meet 2015 safety regulations, and 2014's Ferrari power unit.
It only finalised its driving lineup earlier March, naming Roberto Merhi to partner Will Stevens.
Despite knowing they would struggle to race in Australia, Lowdon said it was important they had made the effort.
Lowdon said: "We are trying very hard but it is a tough thing to do in the time available. But the good thing is that once the problems are solved, that's it. We'll be running."
Lowdon did offer some glimmer of hope that Manor would be able to race at either the next round in Malaysia or the one after in China.
He said: "That's a reasonable kind of expectation. Based on the progress we made yesterday, I think that's given everybody a real boost. And we'll be pushing as hard as we can."
Former world champion Damon Hill told Sky Sports he too thought it was a positive sign the team came to Australia.
Hill said: "This team has had a whole lot of difficulties thrown at it and it's still surviving.
"It might be that it is just a technical box thing, they have to have turned up and shown that they are a force that is still alive and a functioning team even though it can't run a car."
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