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!”

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”