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F1: Ocon replaces Haryanto at Manor
Financial reasons have forced Indonesia’s first ever F1 driver to step aside
Manor Racing has announced that Mercedes protégé and Renault reserve driver Esteban Ocon will compete for them alongside Pascal Wehrlein for the remainder of the F1 season.
The 19-year-old Frenchman – who will become the ninth youngest driver ever to start a grand prix when he makes his debut in Belgium at the end of the month – replaces Rio Haryanto, who has been offered a reserve driver role for the second half of the season.
The Indonesian driver had a contract to drive for the entirety of 2016, but in the last few weeks it became clear that his financial backers were struggling to find the cash required to keep him in his seat beyond the Hungarian GP.
With only a week separating races at the Hungaroring and Hockenheim, the rookie was given special permission by Manor to drive in Germany while talks about his future continued, but having failed to resolve the problems his deal has now been terminated.
Describing Haryanto as “a much-valued member of the team”, Manor’s racing director Dave Ryan said: “We are very pleased to welcome Esteban to Manor Racing for the remainder of the season.
“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.”
Indeed, Ocon’s promotion was only possible thanks to approval from Mercedes and Renault. The reigning constructors champions own the teenager’s signature, and he has essentially been on loan in his reserve role with the French manufacturer this season.
Both teams stand to gain from the move, as it will allow Renault to work out if the youngster is capable of driving for them in 2017, while Mercedes will be able to directly compare his progress against that of their other young driver, Pascal Wehrlein.
Confirming the news, Ocon said: “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.
“They’ve done a great job this season and I’m excited that I’ve been tasked with helping them to build on that progress. I can’t wait to get started!”