Melbourne, March – Indonesian rookie Rio Haryanto crashed in the pit lane ahead of the final practice for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.
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.
Engineers had to disentangle the chassis of the two cars before they were forced back into the garage for repairs.
The Indonesian appeared at fault as he ventured out of his garage into pit lane and nudged Grosjean’s passing car, damaging his front wing.
“Sorry guys,” Haryanto was heard to say to his hard-pressed support team as his car was pushed back.
Haas said their engineers had to replace the floor on Grosjean’s car following the incident and it cost him half of final practice.
When Grosjean finally emerged he clocked the 19th fastest time behind chart-topper Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes.
Haryanto finished a struggling 22nd and last with his best lap time some 3.648secs down on Hamilton’s leading time, indicating the challenge he faces to get a spot in Sunday’s race.
Stewards later said they would be speaking to Haryanto over his “alleged unsafe release from a pit stop” along with Grosjean.
The 23-year-old F1 driver only secured a seat in Manor Racing after he managed to pay 15 million euros (about $16.62 million) for a membership of the British F1 racing team, according to local media.