Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto made his Formula One debut on Saturday when he was penalized for a pit lane crash during the final practice at the Australian Grand Prix and condemned to start the race from back of the grid. Haryanto, his country’s first-ever F1 driver, headed out of the Manor Racing team garage for final practice when he collided with the Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
The 23-year-old from central Java, his nation’s first F1 driver, rolled out of the Manor Racing garage at the start of the session and straight into the side of Romain Grosjean’s Haas. Frenchman Grosjean had entered the pit-lane first and stewards came down hard on Haryanto, slapping him with a three-grid position penalty and two penalty points.
Mr. Stewards said in a statement:
“The driver did not pay attention to the approaching car which was in the fast lane”
Haryanto headed out of the Manor Racing team garage but collided with the Haas driver Roman Grosjean. Engineers had to disentangle the chassis of the two cars before they were forced back into the garage for repairs. Haryanto posted the slowest lap in practice and then his first qualifying was over almost as soon as it began. His sole lap was the second slowest out of the 22-driver field and he was among the seven knocked out from the first of the three sessions in the revamped qualifying. He will at least have familiar company on the back row, with German team mate Pascal Wehrlein alongside him.
It look like Manor’s Rio Haryanto’s maiden #AusGP is over after the stoppage caused by Alonso’s crash.
— Herald Sun Sport (@heraldsunsport) March 20, 2016
Haryanto felt it “pretty strange” to have had such a short run in the new qualifying format which was widely criticized as a flop by drivers and pundits on its Melbourne debut. In the previous qualifying regime, Haryanto would have had 18 minutes to improve lap times in Q1 but in the new system, in which drivers are progressively eliminated, he was knocked out within 10 minutes. McLaren’s twice world champion Fernando Alonso said he was concerned that the new format was unfair on weaker teams and Manor Racing’s two rookie drivers certainly had little chance to improve on their initial efforts in qualifying.