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Rio Haryanto loses Manor Formula 1 race seat, Ocon to debut in Belgium

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Rio Haryanto has lost his Formula 1 race seat with Manor Racing after the Indonesian was unable to meet his contractual obligations due to a shortfall in funding.

Haryanto made his F1 debut with Manor at the beginning of the year after spending four years in GP2, enjoying significant financial backing from the Indonsian government and state-owned oil company Pertamina.

Haryanto’s backing was only enough to get him to the German Grand Prix, with his management facing a race over the summer to get a deal together that would keep him in the car until the end of the season.

On Wednesday, Manor confirmed that Haryanto’s race driver contract had been terminated, but that he has been offered a reserve role for the remainder of the season.

“Rio has been a much-valued member of our team since January, when we signed a contract with him for this season,” Manor racing director Dave Ryan said.

“Some time ago, his management indicated that they were experiencing difficulties honouring the obligations of that contract beyond the Hungarian Grand Prix.

“Rio’s team have worked tirelessly to try to resolve that situation with his Indonesian backers and we have supported those efforts as much as possible, including allowing Rio to race in Germany.

“Unfortunately we reached a point where, in the best interests of the team, we were forced to explore other options for the remainder of the season.

“We are very pleased to continue our support for Rio’s Formula 1 ambitions, by offering him a reserve driver role for the rest of the current season. We very much hope that he will accept that offer.”

Manor confirmed shortly after announcing Haryanto’s departure that Esteban Ocon would be taking his seat for the remainder of the season.

Ocon won the FIA European F3 title in 2014 and the GP3 Series last year, securing himself roles with Mercedes and Renault for 2016 in the process.

After a handful of FP1 run-outs with Renault this year, the Frenchman will now make his F1 debut in Belgium with Manor, teaming up with fellow Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein.

“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,” Ocon said.

“I’m ready for this exciting step up, thanks to the experience I’ve gained as a Formula 1 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.

“I’ve visited the Manor Technical Centre already, for my seat fit and to meet with the wider team, so we’ll be ready to hit the ground running after the summer break.

“They’ve done a great job this season and I’m excited that I’ve been tasked with helping them to build on that progress. I can’t wait to get started!”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.