Frenchman Esteban Ocon will gain his first Formula One race experience at the upcoming 2016 Belgium Grand Prix after back marker team Manor Racing have axed regular driver Rio Haryanto, sighting contractual issues.
Ocon will take over Haryanto’s car for the remaining 10 rounds of the 2016 Formula One season. The team have also announced that “in a bid to keep Rio Haryanto’s racing dream alive, we’ve offered him the role of Reserve Driver for the remaining rounds of 2016.”
On hearing the news, Ocon tweeted this:
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) August 10, 2016
Ocon is one of Formula One’s future stars who are simply waiting in the wings. He is strongly linked to Mercedes which is likely where the appointment comes from. Manor is now effectively a Mercedes training ground as Ocon’s new team mate Pascal Wehrlein is also strongly Mercedes backed. Ocon has tested for the current Formula One World Champions in the last two years and also races for Mercedes Team ART in German Touring Car Series, DTM.
Ocon has been kept busy in 2016 because he also holds the third driver role at Renault Sport in 2016. The experience he’ll gain at Manor will give him a far better chance of gunning for a 2017 race seat, especially considering that Renault have showed a small distaste toward their current driver line up.
Rio Haryanto has taken the conventional way to Formula One using feeder series, GP2 and GP3 to build his path to Manor. He is Indonesia’s first Formula One driver. The said “contractual” issues which explain the axing is thought to have been caused by a lack of money coming in from Rio himself. Manor is his only Formula One race experience and his best performance came in Monaco, where he finished P15.
Manor Racing have tweeted the following, insisting they are still supportive of the Indonesian driver:
— Manor Racing (@ManorRacing) August 10, 2016
Ocon’s appointment comes midway through Formula One’s summer break and that means he won’t be in action for the next 2 weeks as the Belgium Grand Prix begins on the 26th of August.