Pascal Wehrlein has jumped to the defence of the 'underrated' Rio Haryanto after suggesting his former Manor Racing team-mate could have out-performed Esteban Ocon in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.
Ocon makes his F1 debut this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps after being called up to replace Haryanto, the highly-rated Frenchman qualifying 18th (starting 17th) for his first attempt.
RESULTS: Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
However, with Wehrlein cracking Q2 en route to 16th (15th after penalties) on the grid, the German suggests Manor could have had two cars in the second phase of qualifying for the first time if Haryanto was still competing.
Throwing his support behind the Indonesian racer, Wehrlein admits it is a shame Haryanto has been demoted to reserve driver, calling him 'underrated and underestimated'
DISCOVER: 8 of F1 oddest qualifying oddities…
“Esteban is a very highly-rated driver and to beat him by half a second in qualifying was very good and I'm happy with that.
“Maybe now you can see that Rio was actually very good and performing really well and I feel like today he could have done the same, so I think everyone underrated him or underestimated what he could do. I feel a bit sad for that because actually he was a good team-mate and he did a good job.”
BACK TO FRONT: A history of F1 fight-backs!
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