By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
After several weeks of speculation, Manor Racing confirmed the signing of Rio Haryanto for its second seat on Thursday.
The Banbury-based outfit recently confirmed reigning DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein last week and now has secured a second driver in as many weeks. The signing also means that Manor will field two rookies this year.
A native from Indonesia, Haryanto’s chance for the Manor seat increased with necessary funding provided from his government.
Haryanto, 23, will be on hand for pre-season testing at Barcelona in Spain next week, stepping in the MRT05. When he makes his debut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Haryanto will be Formula One’s first Indonesian driver.
Haryanto spent the last four seasons racing in GP2, scoring three wins last season with Campos Racing en route to fourth in the championship.
“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,” Manor Racing team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick said. “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.”
Haryanto secured the seat that many believed would go to Will Stevens or Alexander Rossi, both of whom raced for the team last year.
“Manor Racing is a team with an exciting vision and ambitious plans,” Haryanto said. “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.”
Image: GP2/Paolo Pellegrini