Manor have announced that Esteban Ocon will replace Rio Haryanto as race driver alongside Pascal Wehrlein for the rest of the season.
The team confirmed earlier today that Haryanto would be made reserve driver after explaining that Haryanto had been ‘unable to meet contractual obligations’.
“I’m thrilled that I’ll be making my Grand Prix debut with Manor Racing later this month, and at Spa, of all circuits, which is the next best thing to my home race,” says Ocon.
“I’m ready for this exciting step up, thanks to the experience I’ve gained as a Formula One Reserve Driver this season. 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.”
Ocon has made four appearances in free practice sessions this season for Renault. The 19-year-old Frenchman is also part of Mercedes’s driver development programme.
Manor’s Rio Haryanto will drop three places on the grid for his debut Grand Prix on Sunday, after Melbourne stewards found him at fault for crashing into the Haas of Romain Grosjean at the start of final practice.
Manor released Haryanto into Grosjean’s path in the pit lane, causing the two cars to become briefly entwined after colliding, and the officials’ investigation into the incident decided that the Indonesian rookie had not paid attention to the approaching car in the fast lane.
As well as his grid drop, Haryanto, who finished FP3 in 22nd place two-tenths down on team mate Pascal Wehrlein, picks up two penalty points for the misdemeanour.
Following the crash, Haryanto got a new front wing and continued, while Grosjean’s car was wheeled back to the pits for lengthy repairs to the floor and bodywork.
The first pictures of the Manor MRT05, the car they will use for the 2016 F1 season, have been revealed by the team.
Technical director John McQuilliam declared the team’s all-new design, the first to be powered by a Mercedes power unit, is “a contender”.
“We really believe that,” he added. “The design team have focused almost exclusively on it since the middle of last season and it’s just a whole different ball game to any of its predecessors. We haven’t left any performance on the table and right now I can say there’s not a single part of the car we’d have designed differently.”
“We had to ‘make do’ last year and that’s not what we’re here for,” he added. “We build fast race cars for a living and it’s great to get back to doing what we love.”
As well as current-specification Mercedes PU106C power unit the Manor also uses a gearbox and ancillary components supplied by Williams.