Manor are set to replace Indonesian rookie driver Rio Haryanto with Renault test driver Esteban Ocon for the remainder of the season.
The news comes after Haryanto’s funding ran out prior to the German Grand Prix. He and Manor came to an agreement for him to compete at Hockenheim but it would seem that no further funding came through and so he will be replaced. The official word from Manor is that Haryanto was “unable to meet his contractual obligations”.
There had been many names thrown around for who could replace Haryanto, from McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne to GP2 driver Jordan King. Ocon, who has been competing in the DTM series for Mercedes, will start the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August. He has had success at Formula 3 as well as the GP3 series.
“I’m ready for this exciting step up,” 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.”
For Haryanto the move hardly comes as a surprise. He has been completely over-shadowed by the other Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein all season and the team rely on money from drivers to remain in the sport, so as soon as that dried up he was always going to be shown the door. However, Manor have offered him the reserve seat in the team, so it may not be the last we see of the young Indonesian.
With both current Renault drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen not exactly setting the world ablaze with their pace, Ocon had been tipped to replace one of them next year. The battle between him and Wehrlein for the remainder of the season will be extremely intriguing to watch and a potential foreshadowing of title battles to come.