Roberto Merhi has admitted his new race seat at Manor may be short-lived.
F1’s governing body has now confirmed the race number 98 for the 23-year-old Spanish rookie, who is joining Will Stevens at the resurrected Manor team in Australia.
But Merhi admitted to Spanish radio Cadena Cope that the former Marussia team, having scrambled to prepare for Melbourne after emerging from administration, may soon need to replace him with a bigger-budget driver.
“Right now we don’t know,” he said. “We’ll see how the first race goes. I’m more focused on racing this weekend so I haven’t stopped to see what comes next.
“At the moment I am the driver and we’ll see if I can do the whole season or not. It’s a team that does not have as big a budget as others and may need a paying driver.
“And I cannot contribute anything because I have no sponsors,” added Merhi, referring to Manor who will race in Melbourne with a hurriedly-updated 2014 car with a slightly revised red and white livery.
The Spanish daily AS also quoted Merhi as saying: “I hope that this race will open up the possibility to do more.
“If I want to continue I need a sponsor, but in Spain I am not finding the support. Hopefully this race will help to change the situation.”
He said he is realistic about his prospects for Melbourne, insisting that beating his teammate Stevens can be his only goal.
“I will not have the means to fight on equal terms with the rest,” said Merhi, “using a car and a power unit of 2014, but I will aim to do my best with humility.” (GMM)