Roberto Merhi is a Spanish racing driver who competed in 13 Formula One races during 2015, driving for Manor F1 Team. Before he entered Formula One, Merhi competed in various open-wheel series and DTM. He won his only championship title in the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series.
Roberto Merhi started to race in 2006 and progressed to Formula One in 2015
Early years in the Formula Renault
Roberto Merhi Muntan was born on March 22nd, 1991, in Castellon de la Plana, Spain. 13-year-old Roberto began to race with go-kart but soon he switched to bigger racing cars. In 2006, he debuted in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 and Spanish Formula 3.
In 2007, Merhi continued to compete in the Italian Formula Renault and expanded the program to the Formula Renault Eurocup, driving for Jenzer Motorsport. He finished fourth in Italy and 18th in the Eurocup. During 2007 he had some one-off appearances in other series, such as Spanish Formula 3 or Spanish GT Championship, in which he drove Mosler MT900R.
In 2008, Merhi combined races in Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault West European Championship, driving Tatuus FR2000 for Epsilon Euskadi Team. He finished as the runner-up in the WEC, behind a future F1 superstar Daniel Ricciardo. Merhi also scored few wins in the Spanish Formula 3, and his good performances earned him an invitation to race in the two main non-championship F3 events. He competed at RTL Masters of Formula 3 and Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, both races with Hitech Racing's Dallara F308 (Mercedes).
Roberto Merhi pictured in 2011, when he won Formula 3 Euro Series
Formula 3 was the next step
In 2009, Merhi made a step further to full-time Formula 3 season with Manor Motorsport. Driving Mercedes-powered Dallara F308, he finished 8th in the 2009 Formula 3 Euro Series, scoring four podiums in 20 races. He repeated participations at Masters of F3 and Macau GP, but without any notable results.
Merhi moved to Mücke Motorsport for the 2010 season of Formula 3 Euro Series. With one victory (at Hockenheim) and four podiums, he finished fifth in the final classification. He also raced 12 races in the GP3 Series, driving for Atech CRSGP Team, finishing 6th in the championship. He concluded the season 2010 with Macau GP driving for Prema Powerteam.
Dominant results in the 2011 F3 Euro Series
Prema was his next team and driving Prema's Dallara F308 (Mercedes) he won 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series. Merhi's performance was dominant, he won 11 of 27 races, plus nine more podiums. He also won the FIA Formula 3 International Trophy, winning four of eight races.
Roberto Merhi, Robert Wickens and Christian Vietoris in 2012
Mercedes junior and DTM rookie
For season 2012, Mercedes announced the revival of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Team in the DTM. They promoted Merhi, the reigning Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Robert Wickens and DTM-sophomore Christian Vietoris as the members of Junior Team. Their mentor was seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher.
Merhi drove Mercedes AMG C-Coupe for Persson Motorsport and his biggest achievement in the DTM-rookie season was one fastest lap in 10 races. His best result was 11th place at Zandvoort.
So close to victory in second DTM season
In his second DTM season, Merhi switched to HWA Team. His best result was second place at last race of the season at Hockenheim. Before that, he scored points three more times and finished 15th in the final classification.
Roberto left DTM in 2014 and joined Zeta Corse team in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. He took three wins and six podiums to finish third in the championship, behind Carlos Sainz Jr. and Pierre Gasly. As a guest driver, he competed in two races of British Formula 3 and won both races, driving for Double R Racing. At the end of season, he competed at Macau Grand Prix with Double R Racing's F3 car and finished 4th.
In 2014 Merhi was a test driver for Caterham F1 Team
Merhi's first Formula 1 car was Caterham CT05
During 2014 Merhi made his first appearance in Formula One, driving Renault-powered Caterham CT05 of the Caterham F1 Team at the practice session of the Italian Grand Prix. In 2015, he finally entered Formula One after he made a deal with Manor F1, the team which succeeded Marussia.
Roberto debuted in F1 at Malaysian Grand Prix
The team didn't start the season-opening race in Australia, so Merhi debuted in Formula One at Malaysian Grand Prix. He had a qualifying time out of predicted 107 percent of the best lap, but stewards let him race. He finished the race as last in the field, in 15th place.
Merhi participated in 13 races of 2015 Formula One season
Started 13 and finished 12 races
The rest of the season was similar for Merhi and his teammate Will Stevens. They were regularly the slowest on the track but Merhi almost always completed the races. Of 13 races he started, Merhi retired only once, at Canadian Grand Prix. During 2015 Merhi also participated in eight races of Formula Renault 3.5 Series, driving for Pons Racing. He scored one podium, but he was most remembered after the crash he caused at Red Bull Ring. He was excluded from races and later he was banned for two more races.
2016 FIA WEC season with Manor
Manor chose new drivers for the 2016 Formula One season so Merhi had to switch his focus on something else. He stayed with the Manor team, participating in seven rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. He was driving the #44 Oreca 05 LMP2 prototype, scoring one podium (3rd, Spa) and finishing 14th in the LMP2 drivers' standings.
In June 2016, Merhi debuted at 24 hours of Le Mans. His co-drivers in the #44 car were Matthew Rao and Tor Graves. They retired after 283 laps.