Manor looks set to miss qualifying in Melbourne. Just weeks out of administration, the former Marussia team has been unable to even start its customer Ferrari engines in Melbourne so far.
Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi missed yet another practice session on Saturday.
“The team is doing everything possible to get us out on track,” Spaniard Merhi told the Spanish daily AS, “but we cannot say with certainty that we will be able to qualify.”
He said Manor mechanics worked “all night” on its issues, contradicting speculation the real problem is an unpaid bill to Ferrari.
Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene said on Friday that he has warned Manor that, after losing out on the last engine deal, “No money, no honey”.
But he added: “We are doing our job now to support them, also because they showed to us they stick to what is agreed in the (new) contract and they are serious about the project.”
Bernie Ecclestone, looking on from a distance in London, admitted he is not sure that is true, telling The Independent newspaper “I don’t know whether they have got the money to race”.
But according to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, Ecclestone said Manor travelled to Australia because it has sat out the maximum of three races already.
“They can miss three races per contract,” said the F1 chief executive, “so they would be history if they miss any more.”
Whether Manor will actually race in Melbourne on Sunday, however, is another story.
“I hope to at least be in the race,” said Merhi in Australia. “I don’t know how flexible the FIA will be with us.” (GMM)