As Formula 1 heads into its summer break, Rio Haryanto’s future in the sport hangs in the balance. We’ve looked back at the first half of the season and assessed his performance…
Haryanto became the first Indonesian to compete in F1 when he made his debut at this year’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix at the wheel of a Manor MRT05. The Indonesian rookie was partnered with highly-rated Mercedes protégé and 2015 DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein, with the latter expected to easily have the measure of his less-fancied teammate. After all, Haryanto’s strongest achievement thus far in motorsport is his 4th place finish in the 2015 GP2 series, which he achieved in his fourth year at that level. Still, despite the expectations of the paddock, the intra-Manor battle has not been as one-sided as anticipated.
Unfortunately for Haryanto, the sponsorship package that allows him to occupy the second seat at Manor appears to have run dry, which means that last weekend’s German Grand Prix may well have been his last ever outing in Formula 1. However, to determine how well Haryanto has fared during his first half-season in the sport, it is useful to grade him on a variety of aspects, both relative to his machinery as well as his team-mate…
Qualifying pace: B
Given the quality of the machinery at his disposal, Haryanto’s only realistic reference for the opening races of the season was Wehrlein. Over one lap, the Indonesian rookie has kept his German team-mate honest, which is more than was expected of him at the start of the season. The qualifying scoreline of 7–5 in favour of Wehrlein is hardly anything for Haryanto to be ashamed of.
He has generally extracted from the car what could reasonably be expected on Saturdays. However, there have been exceptions. In Austria, he found himself qualifying down in P19 while Wehrlein progressed to Q2 and ended up claiming a highly-respectable 12th spot on the grid. Similarly, in Hungary, Haryanto was a mammoth 2.8 seconds per lap slower than his German team-mate. While provision must be made for the fact that the track was wet, such a gap between team-mates is simply unheard of elsewhere on the grid. Finally, Wehrlein won the qualifying battle by a margin of 1.3 seconds in Bahrain.
What these numbers make clear is that the German has made a habit of utterly demolishing his team-mate when things are going his way. By contrast, Haryanto’s qualifying victories over Wehrlein have tended to be by between 0.1 and 0.2 seconds. In short, when Wehrlein is ahead, he is far ahead. Haryanto has demonstrated that he has the one lap pace to trouble Wehrlein, but there have been too many weekends where he simply isn’t on the same level as the German youngster.
Race pace: E
While Haryanto has impressed some in the F1 community with his one-lap pace, the same cannot be said for his performances on Sundays. The Indonesian has yet to finish ahead of Wehrlein in races that both of them finished. The margin between the Manor team-mates at the chequered flag has also made less-than-pleasant reading for Haryanto. He finished no less than 48 seconds behind Wehrlein last time out in Germany, while in Monaco he found himself being lapped twice by the German. This lack of race pace has been a concerning trend from Haryanto, who has been largely anonymous during races, all while his teammate has been taking the fight to the likes of Sauber and Renault.
Studying the Indonesian’s lap times during the races so far this season also highlights a lack of consistency on his part. Wehrlein’s lap times tend to remain fairly constant over the length of a given stint, with a gradual reduction in pace as his tyres age. Haryanto, by contrast, tends to produce a mixed bag of lap times. He manages to produce quick (i.e as fast as Wehrlein) times on occasion, but too often his times fluctuate wildly over the length of his stint.
In other words, the difference in race pace between the Manor pair is as follows: Wehrlein’s lap times are quick and consistent, while Haryanto’s are sometimes quick, but often erratic. As a result, Wehrlein managed to secure Manor’s first point of the season in Austria, while Haryanto has yet to come close to finishing inside the top ten.
Wheel-to-wheel racing: D
Haryanto’s lack of race pace has had an effect on his ability to battle other drivers. However, the Indonesian has also struggled on the opening lap of races, when the whole field is still squeezed tightly together. He has only made up an average of one place on the opening lap of each race, while Wehrlein has averaged 2.3 places.
While that difference may not appear overly significant, it has allowed the German to get into battles for position with the likes of Sauber and Renault. From there, Wehrlein’s consistently strong race pace has often allowed him to hold his own in these battles. Haryanto, by contrast, has struggled to make much of an impression or put up much resistance when finding himself ahead of his rivals. In short, Wehrlein has proven fairly difficult to pass once he finds himself ahead of another car, while Haryanto has not.
Tyre management: C
Manor have admitted that their MRT05 challenger tends to chew through its tyres, partly as a result of a lack of rear downforce. Due to inherent differences in the way that the different cars on the grid use their tyres, Wehrlein is once again Haryanto’s best reference. Haryanto has tended to manage slightly longer stints than Wehrlein on his Pirelli tyres, although the German has closed the gap in recent races; his remarkable P10 finish in Austria came as a result of his ability to make a set of soft tyres last a mammoth 47 laps.
The Indonesian’s early-season advantage in terms of tyre management was likely due to his four seasons of experience in the GP2 series, which also uses Pirelli tyres. Wehrlein, by contrast, never competed in GP2 and as such has had to adapt his driving style in order to preserve his tyres. Unfortunately for Haryanto, he has yet to convert his tyre management advantage into finishing a race ahead of his team-mate, and with the German gaining more experience with each passing weekend, he is unlikely to benefit from better tyre life for much longer.
Haryanto’s overall level of performance so far in his debut F1 season is best described as “patchy”. He has shown odd flashes of quality but has found himself exposed far too often by Wehrlein. To make matters worse, the German youngster has certainly been improving in recent races and appears to be hitting his Formula 1 stride after his three years in DTM.
If Haryanto does remain at Manor until the end of the season, his fortunes are unlikely to improve relative to his team-mate. It is unfortunate that a driver who is clearly popular and has a passion for motor racing is struggling to make it at this level, but on the other hand, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of the sport, and rookies who fail to perform from the first lap are quickly shown the door.
Of course, Haryanto, who is only 23, is likely to continue his development as a racing driver and may well achieve success in another series, such as Formula E or the World Endurance Championship. Unfortunately, however, his stay in Formula 1 is unlikely to last much longer.