Formula 1

Ocon To Replace Haryanto At Manor

Mercedes young driver and Renault’s reserve driver Esteban Ocon will replace Rio Haryanto for the remainder of the season at Manor.

The announcement came today after weeks of speculation about the future of Haryanto’s seat. Manor was made aware sometime early on into the first half of the season that Haryanto’s management were struggling to find the required sponsorship for the Indonesian driver to keep his seat after the Hungarian GP. The team supported Haryanto as much as they could, even allowing him to race in Germany despite not having the sponsorship to do so. However, a solution and a new backer could not be found, and the team ultimately decided to replace Haryanto for the remainder of the season.

McLaren young driver and GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne, Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi and GP2 driver Jordan King were all linked with the race seat, but ultimately it went to Ocon, who will now race alongside Mercedes Protégé Pascal Wehrlein. It is not all bad news for Haryanto though, as he has instead been offered the team’s reserve seat.

Ocon has been racing in DTM for Mercedes so far this season, as well as taking on the role of Renault reserve driver. He was predicted to be in the running for a seat at Renault next season, replacing either Jolyon Palmer or Kevin Magnussen, but he will now get his chance to race sooner than expected. Felix Rosenqvist will replace him in DTM, while Renault have not made an announcement yet regarding who will be taking his place with them for the remainder of the season.

“We are very pleased to welcome Esteban to Manor Racing for the remainder of the season.” The teams Racing Director Dave Ryan said in a statement today. “He is clearly one of the rising stars of F1, shining in his Reserve Driver role with Renault, while also competing in the DTM with Mercedes-AMG this year. Our team has made significant strides in 2016, including finishing in the points for the first time in Austria last month. We need to maintain our pace of development in order to achieve our ambitions, not only for this season but also for the longer-term.”

Perhaps the most interesting dynamic about Ocon going to Manor will be seeing how he performs alongside Wehrlein, who scored Manor’s only point of the season in Austria. Wehrlein has been a rising star of the Mercedes young drivers program, winning the DTM series last year aged just 21, and has been hotly tipped to replace either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes sometime in the near future. On reflection Ocon has not had the same success as Wehrlein in DTM, and has often hidden in the shadow of Wehrlein. But now alongside him in identical machinery, this is the chance he needs to show Mercedes he’s just as good as Wehrlein.

“We are very pleased that this opportunity has opened up for Esteban, that Manor has again had the confidence to give a chance to a promising young talent and that the good collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Renault has allowed this to come together,” said Toto Wolff. “Esteban did an exceptional job in the works Mercedes at the Silverstone test and we are excited to see him take his first steps in an F1 race environment.”

Ocon will make his racing debut in Spa for the Belgian GP at the end of the month, and revealed in a statement today he’s looking forward to the challenge of F1.

“I’m thrilled that I’ll be making my Grand Prix debut with Manor Racing later this month, and at Spa, of all circuits, which is the next best thing to my home race. I’m ready for this exciting step up, thanks to the experience I’ve gained as a Formula 1 Reserve Driver this season. I’d like to thank Renault Sport F1 Team and Mercedes-Benz for working together to make this happen, and to Manor Racing for the opportunity, which I’m going to grab with both hands.”

Feature Image Credit: Renault F1 Press Release

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