Rio Haryanto, the now-ex Formula 1 driver backed by a state-owned Indonesian oil company, is out of the backmarker Manor F1 team, per Racer. What happened to all that sweet, sweet oil money, Rio?
Haryanto was dismissed for being unable to meet his contractual obligations, which in F1-backmarker-ese means ‘he didn’t cough up the dough.’ He only had enough money to fund his seat through the Hungarian Grand Prix, but was able to work out a deal with the team to race at Hockenheim to see if he could get his sponsorship back on track, per Racer’s report.
Sadly for F1's first Indonesian driver, that Indonesian oil-cash did not come through. Many believe that Haryanto struggled to explain his results and the nature of being a backmarker in F1 to the Indonesian government, according to Racer. (Myth plausible!)
Since Manor was unable to offer the drive to their own reserve driver, they poached Renault’s. Welcome to the big show, Esteban Ocon.
Both Ocon and full-season Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein are Mercedes junior drivers, having been supported by the manufacturer through numerous support series and other drives.
Ocon will take over Haryanto’s seat through the end of 2016, starting with the Belgian Grand Prix later this month. In addition to being Renault’s reserve driver for 2016, Ocon also races a Mercedes in DTM. Ocon beat F1 whiz-kid-of-the-moment Max Verstappen to the European Formula 3 championship title in 2014. Last year, Ocon won the GP3 championship.
With Ocon in place of Haryanto, this should make Manor fun to watch, provided the television cameras break away from the Merc Parade up front long enough to look further back in the field.