Rio Haryanto will step up to Formula 1 in 2016 after securing the last available seat on the F1 grid alongside Pascal Wehrlein at Manor Racing.
The GP2 race winner was one of three drivers – along with Alexander Rossi and Will Stevens - considered to be in the hunt for the position after Mercedes protégé Wehrlein was officially confirmed with the team last week, but it is Haryanto that has received the nod.
Though he is known he comes with substantial state-sponsored backing, Haryanto, who has previously tested for Caterham and Manor (under its former Marussia guise), did enjoy a breakthrough GP2 season in 2015, clinching three race wins on the way to fourth in the overall standings.
Set to become the first driver from Indonesia to start an F1 race, Haryanto is also thrilled to be Asia's sole representative this year.
“Manor Racing is a team with an exciting vision and ambitious plans,” he said. They have produced a great package and I can't wait to get in the car. Melbourne will be a huge moment for me, my country, supporters and fans and I want to thank everyone who's been with me since I started in single seaters; 2016 is my chance to reward that faith and represent Asia in F1.”
Indeed, team owner Stephen Fitzpatrick touches upon Haryanto's huge following in Indonesia and is delighted to be bolstering the team's awareness in a new core market.
“We are delighted to announce Rio as our second race driver for 2016. Rio's been racing since he first got into a kart at six years old. He's tenacious on and off the track and made a big impression on last year's GP2 battle.
"Rio's huge following in Indonesia is great for the team and for F1. They are keen to see him on the grid and we're confident that we'll see him enjoying some exciting battles in the year ahead.”
The deal means Manor will field an all-rookie driver line-up for the season, in a year that also see it use Mercedes power units, collaborate with technical partner Williams and acquire knowledge from ex-Ferrari designers Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis.
The deal means Stevens has been dropped after just one full season in F1, while Rossi - who finished ahead of Haryanto in GP2 and was tipped for a drive after impressing during five race outings with Manor last year - has also been snubbed.
Manor has also confirmed Haryanto will use 88 as his official driver number in Formula 1.