Roberto Merhi is now hoping to make it all the way to the end of the season with Manor.
Until now, the Spanish rookie has been on a race-by-race deal with the struggling former Marussia team, as Manor left the door open to a driver with much-needed sponsor backing.
One candidate has now emerged, 2013 GP2 champion Fabio Leimer, who began his Friday practice duties with Manor in Hungary.
And Swiss Leimer’s former backer, the wealthy Rainer Gantenbein, is trackside at the Hungaroring. The highly-experienced correspondent for Blick newspaper, Roger Benoit, insisted that “Everything depends on the money”.
Merhi, meanwhile, has never hidden the fact that his Manor adventure could end at any time, but he admitted in Hungary that he is nonetheless hoping to keep his seat for the rest of the season.
“My goal is to finish the season with the team,” he told Spanish broadcaster Mega.
“Having no money is difficult, but I try to do good results to prove I deserve the seat.”
Giving Merhi a confidence boost this weekend is an updated Ferrari engine specification, which according to the Spanish daily Marca brings him almost in line with teammate Will Stevens.
“My car is still 2 to 3kph slower (than Stevens’),” he said, “but at least now I don’t need to do crazy things any more to make up the one second per lap difference.” (GMM)