Oct.31 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Mercedes chiefs will be “curious spectators” as apparent trouble at the British backmarker Manor unfolds.

That is what Toto Wolff said after rumours spread around the paddock in Mexico City on Friday that Manor chiefs John Booth and Graeme Lowdon have resigned.

The news apparently came as a surprise to the Mercedes team boss, having only recently signed a deal with Manor to supply them with championship-winning ‘power units’ for 2016.

“I’ve known John forever, since the Formula Renault days of Lewis (Hamilton) and formula 3. Manor means John Booth and John Booth means Manor.”

As for Lowdon, who is understood to also be leaving amid a dispute over the future with Manor’s new investor Stephen Fitzpatrick, Wolff added: “Graeme was very instrumental in keeping the team alive last year.

“So seeing them go, from a personal standpoint and from the racing spirit, is obviously a blow. Going forward, we have signed the deal with Manor and we need to give credit to everybody in the team who stays but we are curious spectators from now on,” he said.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said Mercedes put a clause in the engine deal allowing it to be terminated in the event that Manor is sold to a new owner.

The report, adding that there is more than one interested buyer on the horizon, explained that the clause would stop Red Bull from simply snapping up Manor and securing the Mercedes engine deal it really wants.