Just hours before the green light goes out in Hungary, reports from the paddock are suggesting that McLaren reserve driver is the surprise name in line to replace Rio Haryanto.
Respected F1 journalist Adam Cooper broke the story which suggest that talks between the two parties have taken place. He states that “McLaren sources see Manor as a perfect opportunity to give the Belgian some extra mileage and a further chance to stake a claim for a race seat at the Woking outfit in 2017.” Vandoorne already impressed the team with a points scoring performance in his debut in Bahrain whilst standing in for an injured Fernando Alonso.
We have stated before that we believed the team did not have a strong hand at the negotiations table due to the lack of quick/cash happy drivers and could be low balled by the Indonesian Govt keen to pay as little as possible. In fact here is what we wrote only a few weeks ago.
“If we were behind Sauber and say, Stoffel Vandoorne was available for a few races then it is a completely different kettle of fish. But they aren’t and he’s not.”
Well it looks like we were wrong and it seems he is free to race in F1 for another team this season and we presume that Honda will also be coughing up some money to ease his passage back into F1.
As regards to the team, the obvious appeal of having two potential world champions driving for the team and being paid for the privilege obviously has huge advantages on and off the track. They would also instantly have one of the best line ups on the grid.
It’s likely that given time constraints, Haryanto will remain in the car for the next race at Hockenheim, which would give Manor the summer break to find a solution. We understand Rio is due to appear at the Indonesian Embassy of Germany in Frankfurt on Tuesday and has made plans to travel to Hockenheim. However the emergence of Stoffel Vandoorne is a massive game changer in this situation and is likely to be seen as a massive blow to his chances of remaining with the team.
The team have pulled an ace from up their sleeve. Rio Haryanto’s manager Piers Hunnisett has spoken of broken promises from sponsors in Indonesia. It is now time them to put up or shut up.