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Will Stevens lands Manor race seat for 2015 as team's planned return continues apace

Team say they are at "an advanced stage" with car for Australian GP

Will Stevens: Missed out on F1 debut
Image: Will Stevens: Previously had a stint as a Marussia test driver

Britain’s Will Stevens has been announced as the renamed Manor team’s first driver for the 2015 season – with the outfit insisting they are on course to return to the grid at the season-opening Australian GP.

Having come out of administration via a Company Voluntary Arrangement last week, the team formerly known as Marussia say they are making “huge strides” in their preparations for 2015 with the car they intend to run in Melbourne “at an advanced stage of build”.

The team's hopes of returning to the grid for the first time since falling into administration last November had appeared to have been dashed when the F1 Strategy Group rejected their plan to run a modified version of their 2014 car. Several teams have since come out in public support of Manor's return, although the team haven't revealed what car they are currently working on for Australia.

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With Haas thought to have acquired Marussia's former Banbury base, the team say their preparations are taking place at Manor's original home in Dinnington and "personnel are working 24-7 towards the air freight dispatch date of 6 March".

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene revealed at last week's Barcelona test that the Scuderia had agreed to supply Manor with their 2014 engines in the new season, although no deal had yet been formally signed.

The news that Manor have now settled on the first of their race drivers represents a further significant step in their revival, with 23-year-old Stevens re-joining the team he briefly served as a reserve driver before the administrators were called in.

“It’s very exciting to see everything coming together at Manor after the tremendous effort that has gone into saving the team,” said Stevens, who made his F1 race debut with Caterham at last season's finale in Abu Dhabi.

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“It would not have been possible without the incredible support we have received from all the suppliers and from within the sport, but most of all the fantastic team of people at Manor who are working around the clock to ensure we are ready for Melbourne. My thanks to the team for their confidence in me and I can’t wait to see all the hard work rewarded when we line up on the grid in two weeks’ time." 

Stevens' confirmation means that, provided Manor's return goes ahead, Britain will retain its complement of three home drivers on the grid. Max Chilton raced for Marussia last season but has recently been in the USA helping his former junior team Carlin with preparations for their Indy Lights debut.

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