The worst kept secret in F1 was finally confirmed today when Rio Haryanto was officially confirmed as Manor driver for the 2016 F1 season in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The GP2 race winner has been in talks with Manor for several months now, and at the end of last year the Indonesian government agreed to bankroll up to £10 million of support behind him. However, the deal seemed to hit trouble when the the promised money hit political troubles and was subsequently not delivered to the team. It is believed Haryanto has been able to deliver around £8.5 million raised by his family, personal sponsors Pertamina, and a host of Indonesian entrepreneurs who stepped in at the very last minutes to save the deal once the government funding fell through.
Haryanto’s elevation to the F1 grid will also be a welcome to boost to F1. Already a huge star in his home country, he will draw a large TV audience to the sport in a time when traditional market ratings are steadily declining. With five Asian races on the calendar for 2016, the presence of Haryanto will provide the only Asian presence on the grid this season.
Haryanto will be partnered by Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein, who was announced last week.
Below is the statement released by the team:
MANOR RACING SIGNS RIO HARYANTO
Indonesian Rio completes race driver line-up
18 February 2016, 09.00 GMT/16.00 WIB Jakarta
Manor Technical Centre, Banbury, UK
Manor Racing has chosen Rio Haryanto for its second race seat, completing a young and hungry 2016 driver line-up.
The 23-year-old’s Formula 1 debut follows success in junior formulae since single-seater racing in 2008. He impressed in each of his three F1 tests and graduates from a robust 2015 season in GP2 Series.
Rio climbs into the Manor Racing MRT05 cockpit for testing in Barcelona next week, with his first Grand Prix next month in Australia.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Manor Racing’s owner
“We are delighted to announce Rio as our second race driver for 2016. Rio’s been racing since he first got into a kart at six years old. He’s tenacious on and off the track and made a big impression on last year’s GP2 battle. Rio’s huge following in Indonesia is great for the team and for F1. They are keen to see him on the grid and we’re confident that we’ll see him enjoying some exciting battles in the year ahead.”
“Manor Racing is a team with an exciting vision and ambitious plans. They have produced a great package and I can’t wait to get in the car. Melbourne will be a huge moment for me, my country, supporters and fans and I want to thank everyone who’s been with me since I started in single seaters; 2016 is my chance to reward that faith and represent Asia in F1.”
Manor Racing is one of Formula One’s few privateer teams. Under new ownership since early 2015 it has restructured its operations bringing in established engineering talent alongside its own seasoned pros. 2016 sees the team partner with Mercedes-Benz for powertrains and Williams Advanced Engineering for gearboxes. With Pascal Wehrlein – previously reserve driver of the Mercedes works team – and Rio Haryanto joining as drivers, Manor Racing is poised for a competitive season.