Manor boss Dave Ryan says the team's form in 2016 proved it deserved to be in Formula One.
After emerging from the ashes of Marussia's administration at the start of 2015 and running a year-old engine and chassis for the whole campaign, a switch to Mercedes for 2016 promised a revival in fortunes. The team reached Q2 on five occasions and scored a point through Pascal Wehrlein in Austria, though it was not enough to beat Sauber to tenth in the championship.
Despite finishing bottom of the standings, Ryan is happy the team was competing on a much better level than in 2015.
"Let's be frank, we needed to make a big performance improvement but we did," Ryan told Autosport. "We still have to make the same sort of step again but the goal was that we wanted to earn the respect of the pitlane and we have done.
"There have been several times this year where we really deserved to be in Q2 on pure performance and we've ticked that box five times - but not enough. We belong here, that's for sure, and if we can keep building the team then there's no reason to expect that we won't keep improving."
Despite the Mercedes engine deal, which allowed it to sign Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon as drivers this year, the team is still has the lowest budget of the current grid. That situation was not helped by Sauber's crucial result at the penultimate round in Brazil which relegated Manor to 11th.
Ryan is happy with what the team achieved in 2016 and thinks its moving in the right direction to achieve its long-term goals in F1.
"There's been a lot of lessons and it is a massive challenge," he said. "If you just look down at the pitlane and see the resources that everyone else has got, generally speaking you just think this isn't going to be easy.
"The frustration is that you know what you need to do and where you need to be but you know it's going to take two or three seasons to get to that point. So budgets are obviously a big thing but in terms of the value we got back out of the money we put into the team, that's pretty impressive.
"We know there's still a huge amount of work to do."