Rio Haryanto did not have an easy time of it in his first F1 race at Monaco.
The conditions were tricky for all the drivers but what yesterday above all other races showed is that there is an art to backmarkerdom, which drivers in that position must learn. Basically if you drive a Manor or one of the slower cars, you are going to be lapped several times by the leader during a race and by plenty of other cars too. The art is in not losing too much time in the process.
Rio spent most of the race trying to get out of the way of Mercedes, Red Bulls and the rest as he did looking at the track. It is always interesting when a driver who has been at the front of the field for most of his junior career who starts his F1 career in a backmarker car to see how they deal with this. We recall Daniel Riccardio struggling with this when he began his career at HRT and was comfortably beaten in his first race by his then team mate and all round decent benchmark, Vitantonio Luizzi.
Initially, Rio’s pace was good as he navigated the wet conditions and stayed out of trouble, which yesterday was his number 1 objective. However, in comparison his team mate Pascal Wehrlein, who was also being lapped by the leading cars all the way through the second phase of the race, Rio was losing 2-10 seconds per lap trying to get out of the way of other cars. At times he looked overly cautious and was diving out of the way of other cars long before the duty called. As well as looking in his mirrors, his constant going offline and slowing down meant he lost temperature in his tires and struggled to get back up to pace.
Of course, it is vital that backmarkers do get out of the way of the leaders and I would much rather be writing this blog talking about this than Rio getting caught up in an accident that cost driver X the race. He also of course may have been under team orders just to make sure he brought the car home. In such freaky conditions the smaller teams can pick up valuable points by way of just staying on the track.
We are going to put yesterday down as a bad day at the office for Rio and hopefully one that he will have picked up valuable experience from.