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Fabio Leimer Joins Manor as Reserve driver: Will he get a race?

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Fabio Leimer Joins Manor as Reserve driver: Will he get a race?
Jun 4, 2015, 3:38 AM

It's been a busy week for the Manor F1 team HR department with the news that 2013 GP2 series champion Fabio Leimer has been retained as reserve dr...

It's been a busy week for the Manor F1 team HR department with the news that 2013 GP2 series champion Fabio Leimer has been retained as reserve driver.

The 26-year-old joins the driving strength in the same week that the F1 minnows have bolstered their design and engineering departments with several key appointments.

The signature of Leimer is a significant moment for both team and driver. The Swiss racer  took three wins from seven podium finishes during his successful GP2 campaign with Racing Engineering two seasons ago but was passed over for promotion to the senior championship, switching instead to the FIA World Endurance Championship with Rebellion Racing.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday - Monte Carlo, Monaco

Manor have announced that Leimer will take part in selected Free Practice sessions at Grands Prix this season but have yet to confirm which races he will appear behind the wheel and which driver will be asked to step aside.

Will Stevens has had the whip hand over Roberto Merhi so far this season, bettering the Spaniard in every qualifying head to head so far and only following him home to the chequered flag for the first time in Monaco last time out.

Merhi has been quoted of late bemoaning the fact that he carries an 11kg weight deficit to Stevens and will surely be feeling the heat with the acquisition of Leimer who will be present in pit lane and at briefing sessions at selected races.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Monaco Grand Prix - Sunday - Monte Carlo, Monaco

The signing of a third driver fulfils three important functions for the squad. It removes the headache of trying to find a driver at short notice should one of the regular racers not be available, it keeps the pressure on the current race duo who only really have each other for competition on the F1 grid and it offers a valuable revenue source for a company still struggling to emerge from the ashes of administration.

 That Leimer's itinerary for the year has yet to be announced suggests that the financial process has yet to be completed but when the paperwork is finished the addition of a GP2 champion will surely be a boon to both parties.

“We’re delighted to welcome Fabio to our team," said Manor Team Principal, John Booth. "We always keep a close eye on drivers competing in the feeder series and their potential for making the step up to Formula 1. Fabio has been on that radar for a number of years, so we’re pleased to give him the opportunity to progress as he is a very talented driver and certainly deserving of this opportunity."

Meanwhile Leimer himself  is suitably excited about a career breakthrough he might not at this stage have expected to make.  “I’m thrilled to be provided with this opportunity and I’d like to thank the Manor Marussia F1 Team for the faith they have shown in my ability.

"In particular I’m very excited to have the chance to drive the car in selected FP1s, but I am also looking forward to spending a lot of time trackside with the team, contributing my observations and experience in engineering situations and also learning about the team and a Formula 1 operation."

"It’s a huge step for me and I can’t wait to get started and hopefully reward the team’s confidence in me.”

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