Indonesia’s Gelael to make test debut for Toro Rosso

2017 F1 season

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Indonesian driver Sean Gelael will make three test appearances for Toro Rosso this year, the team has confirmed on social media.

The 20-year-old from Jakarta will drive the team’s STR12 in the tests at Bahrain, the Hungaroring and Yas Marina, all of which take place following their rounds of the world championship. Toro Rosso issued a picture of Gelael have a seat-fitting at the team’s Faenza based.

Gelael will spend his second season in Formula Two (formerly GP2) this year having moved from Campos to Arden, the team set up by current Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. Gelael placed 15th in the championship last year.

His father Ricardo Gelael is a Indonesian businessman who made his money in KFC fast food restaurant franchises. He helped fund his son’s racing which have included two seasons of European Formula Three and one of Formula Renault 3.5.

Gelael has also dabbled in sports cars, winning twice in the Asian Le Mans series last year driving a car shared with Ferrari tester Antonio Giovinazzi. He graduated from karts in 2012 and won the final race of that year’s Formula Pilota China series. That remains his most recent solo victory.

Rio Haryanto became the first driver from Indonesia to race in Formula One last year. He drove the first half of the season for Manor before running out of funds and being replaced by Esteban Ocon.

Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas company which previously sponsored Haryanto, will be the title sponsors for the Arden cars in F2 this year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Indonesia’s Gelael to make test debut for Toro Rosso”

  1. This is absolutely farcical and I don’t get it. For one, he’s terrible. Truly not good enough to even dream of driving an F1 car.
    Secondly, it’s Toro Rosso. Between them they have Gasly, Kari, Ticktum and Verschoor who are all very talented. Any of them would be a better choice. Yes, the latter three are inexperienced but talent trumps Gelael’s ‘experience’.
    It really makes me wonder if Red Bull give STR enough money. If they’re resorting to this, choosing a paydrive tester over a Red Bull junior, clearly they need it for their budget. Weird from Red Bull. And a massive shame. Urgh.

    1. Also Pertemina would do wisely not to sponsor Gelael in GP2 if they really want an Indonesian F1 driver and continue backing Haryanto. He’s bad, but he’s lightyears ahead of Gelael.

      1. All True

      2. @hashostolze I’m not sure. I don’t see any foreigners caring about our national petroleum company, and all most Indonesians would know would probably be that Pertamina is paying for a driver. Heck, with Gelael money this one might even go an entire season.

        With F1 being behind a paywall (unlike MotoGP) (and with people more busy talking about Essien playing here than motorsports, maybe?) I doubt Indonesians would care (too) much beyond that (i.e. regardless of how good Gelael would be – both he and Haryanto would be somewhere at the rear anyway).

    2. Do Red Bull owns 100% of the team? Maybe they’re wanting to be more independent, but this would make sense if some share of the team was of another owner.

      1. Miane, yes, the team is a fully owned subsidiary of Red Bull.

        1. So Red Bull maybe have some interest in Indonesian energetic drinks market haha

  2. This guy isn’t good enough for F1. Period. And how he managed to get a Toro Rosso test drive above all baffles me, with them usually being a team that gives tests to Red Bull young drivers who look to be the next decent driver. Because I, for one, never in a million years can see Helmut Marko promoting this guy.

    1. Maybe they want the funding for the F2 team and that’s just part of the deal.

  3. If you all think Stroll is pay driver, I don’t even know what to categorize this guy. This guy epitomizes the term “pay driver”. Next think you know, Pertamina and KFC will be on the side of that Toro Rosso. Ruining that livery.

  4. Stop Stroll bashing until he has 2 races under his belt… He may be better or worse than we expect.
    Having this Indonesian guy drive TR is good for F1 and good for TR no matter how bad he is. Obviously TR will benefit from it somehow they are not exactly stupid, so everybody calm down.

  5. Is there any kind of PR exposure worse than sponsoring a driver for half a season, before having him pulled for lack of funds? I know absolutely zero about the Indonesian energy market… but I do know pertimina (?) is a cut rate oil company… they can’t even plan out their own resources…

    I’d love to know what actually happened.

  6. Had a quick look at this race history and it tells me just one thing “Big funding”.

    I am pretty sure Torro Rosso is looking for some quick and easy money. This guy may make it one or two practices this year but nothing more than that. I mean come on the talent hunters at Torro Rosso won’t allow him to survive for long.

    But maybe if the cash flow keeps coming and it is big enough we might see him take a seatnext year, but I will expect him to drown faster than Haryanto.

    Sorry but if this sounds mean to the Indonesian fans I didn’t mean to hurt feelings. Just talking about the status of pay drivers in F1 and how much more that seat is worth having a driver of talent.

    1. I agree. Just think of it as a paid F1 experience by a fan. He jumps in the car 3 times during the year, does a handful of laps and coughs up a few million quid for it. The team is happy is because they made some quick money and the fan is happy because he lived his dream of driving an F1 car.

      Will he ever make it an F1 grid? Hell no. He’s an amateur. This is just a paid joyride.

  7. Johnnie Röös
    22nd March 2017, 20:50

    Dont he need a s-license? Or is The points system really crap?


      I think you’re right. So can anyone tell us why he is allowed to drive in an official F1 session?

    2. The requirements for the practice-only form of the Super Licence (he doesn’t need a full one) are different – far easier to meet, and no points requirement.

  8. Michael Brown (@)
    22nd March 2017, 22:30

    I thought Toro Rossi were above chasing pay drivers.

  9. His father was interested in buying Manor earlier this year, I read somewhere.

  10. What

    how much

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