Rio Haryanto says he is impressed with the rate of development F1 has achieved since 2012 as he enjoyed his first drive at the wheel of an F1 car for three years in Abu Dhabi.
Having formerly held reserve driver roles with Manor under its former Marussia guise and Caterham, Haryanto was called up to drive with Manor at the Pirelli tyre test in Abu Dhabi, his first outing in such machinery since 2012.
One of several drivers linked with the two available seats at Manor for 2016, though the Indonesian was driving the relatively dated MR03B with its 2014 specification Ferrari power unit, he is nonetheless impressed with the gains made since his last drive.
“The cars of today are quite a lot different, especially in respect of the new engine developments” Haryanto explained, “so it took some time to get used to the changes, especially the engine management.
“As the morning progressed though I was improving all the time and no issues I could really get into the programme.”
The 22-year-old drove Manor's MR03B at the Pirelli Tyre Test in Abu Dhabi, the final run out for the machine before the team undergoes a major overhaul, most notably its switch to latest-specification Mercedes power.
Completing 56 laps with a fastest time of 1:49:593 - 0.068 seconds faster than fellow Manor tester and GP2 compatriot Jordan King –, Haryanto is hopeful he has given a timely account of himself.
“Obviously this was Pirelli's test, so the programme was determined by their requirements, but I am pleased with the job I did and very happy to have another opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car and show what I can do. I would like to thank Manor for this chance.”
Haryanto drove for Campos Racing in GP2 last season, winning three sprint races in Bahrain, Austria and at Silverstone en route to fourth overall, just one point off Sergey Sirotkin in the standings.
As well as a new engine deal, the Banbury-based team will overhaul its management after Graeme Lowdon and John Booth both quit their respective sporting director and team principal roles.
by Jack Healy