Sean Gelael, Toro Rosso, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017

Gelael to drive four practice sessions for Toro Rosso

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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Formula Two racer Sean Gelael will drive for Toro Rosso in the first practice sessions at four of this year’s remaining races.

The Indonesian driver, who has tested for the team twice already, will participate in practice for the Singapore, Malaysian, United States and Mexican Grands Prix. Toro Rosso has not yet decided which of their drivers’ cars he will use at each track.

Team principal Franz Tost said: “During the tests in Bahrain and Budapest Sean performed very well, helping the team in a very professional way, with a mature approach to the complex task of providing engineers with useful feedback.”

“Everyone within the team was impressed by his performance, his technical understanding and his commitment. Therefore, we are happy that he will be driving the FP1 sessions for us at these four Grands Prix. I am sure he will do an excellent and useful job for the team.”

Gelael said it was an “amazing opportunity” and “an honour to be driving in Formula One starting in Singapore and Malaysia, two venues that are so close to my home country.”

“I will use the opportunity to absorb like a sponge everything I can and learn as much as possible. I hope I can do a good job for Scuderia Toro Rosso and provide the team with good data from these important first sessions.”

Gelael, who is in his second full year of Formula Two (formerly GP2), lies 20th in the standings with three points. His best result is ninth at Silverstone. He has no FIA F1 superlicence points.

Last year Rio Haryanto became the first driver from Indonesia to race in Formula One. He spent the first half of the season driving for Manor before being replaced by Esteban Ocon.

2017 Singapore Grand Prix

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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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45 comments on “Gelael to drive four practice sessions for Toro Rosso”

  1. Gelael could be the ‘Stroll’ of Toro Rosso Honda. Indonesian KFC are bigger than KFC worldwide.
    I could say that he was less exiting than Haryanto but his technical understanding is news for me.
    Maybe if Toro Rosso start selling one of their seat they could expand car development financially.

    1. @ruliemaulana To be fair to Stroll, he won two championships and plenty of races before he came into F1. Gelael hasn’t scored a solo win in anything for five years (he shared a couple of Asian Le Mans series wins).

      1. @keithcollantine I knew that. He might be the worst ‘Stroll’ of all. But unlike Haryanto, Pertamina are willing to sponsored him. In racing era that need special fuel and oil, having Pertamina as sponsor are great thing. Not to mention other commercial gain from RedBull, Honda, KFC even F1 itself on 250 million people of Indonesia.

        1. 1. Under current regulation where fuel developement is closely tied with engine developement, it’s almost impossible for pertamina to be a fuel supplier. Last year pertamina was willing to spend more money for Haryanto of Manor use their fuel but all mercedes engine use Petronas’s fuel..

          2. While Pertamina does sponsor Gelael, most of the money comes from his daddy..

          3. The deal between STR and Honda is off

          4. Even if STR is willing to sell one of their seat to him, Sean Gelael has zero super license point.. and looking at his current performance in F2, I don’t believe he will ever get one..

          5. Tost statement that “praises” Gelael is most likely “sweet talk” for media purpose.. quoting Sean Gelael himself, “jangan terbuay media”

          1. It would be funny if FIA abruptly said that Gelael had ‘consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars’ just like they did to Kubica and all Gelael had to do is driven at least 300 km in a current Formula One car.
            Its a subjective matter after all.

          2. ‘consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars’ is the one who already had SL before so it doesn’t apply for gelael or anyone who hasn’t got SL

          3. @gauss that’s not correct. It applies for everyone. They relaxed the regulations on getting a super license a while back.

          4. nah i guess u’re the one who’s not correct.. it applies for everyone who had SL before.. all they need is drive 300km with current spec and then let FIA to judge ‘consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars’..

          5. @gauss you should probably not link to the F1 category as the proper licence regulations cannot be found under that.

            That being said, I was wrong indeed. I thought 5.1.6 applied to the full 5.1.7, but it only applies to a (the 40 points) and b (having had a super licence in any of the there previous seasons). My bad.

  2. Correlate this news with the fact that Kvyat keeps on getting an extension; you are looking at a team that is struggling financially.

    1. yeah, Mateschitz has been keeping the team on a with just a trickle of finance for the last couple of years

    2. sumedh, why is it that people make these sorts of comments about Kvyat – yet never seem to be able to provide a concrete and credible source for those claims – whilst simultaneously ignoring the sponsors that Sainz has brought in (with Sainz having more personal sponsors than Kvyat has), and the statement from Cepsa that stated they helped Sainz get a seat at Toro Rosso by sponsoring the team?

      1. Because Sainz is scoring points for the team.. lots of them. Same reason why people don’t highlight Alonso as a pay driver (he also has several sponsors) and only few people say that Perez is a pay driver.

        1. sumedh, it’s more the point that nobody is offering any sources to try and justify those claims – where is this mythical source of money supposedly coming from? The longer that this goes on with no evidence being presented, the more that I think that those claims are being pulled out of thin air.

          Yes, Sainz is scoring points, but it still feels rather hypocritical when Cepsa effectively said that they bought the seat for him and nobody bats an eyelid at the fact that happened. There is a difference between having personal sponsors, such as Alonso – as the team does not have a significant financial gain from that – and having a company promise to back the team to the tune of $15 million a year if they sign you, as was the case with Sainz.

          1. this is new to me.. do you have the article when Cepsa said about that $15 million sponsorship?

  3. Gelael’s racing record is an absolute joke… I like to think that even if my dad was a multi-billionaire and I was an F2 driver, I’d be too embarrassed to even try to get F1 running if I was that useless.

    Mateschitz must be tightening the purse strings a little bit.

    1. @neilosjames, mind you, when he drove the car in the mid season tests at the Hungaroring, his best time was only around a second off what Sainz and Kvyat managed the following day and was 8th out of 12th that day. His junior career is, as you say, pretty lousy, but to be honest I’d say that there have been other drivers who have put in worse performances in testing, such as Celis Jr for Force India.

      Mind you, by historical standards Gelael is nowhere near as bad as some test drivers used to be – the most notorious example being the legendarily awful Chanoch Nissany and his famously haphazard performance in the Hungarian GP.

      1. Looking at their junior records, Gelael is pretty much on the same level as Celis in my opinion. And you couldn’t really use testing result as benchmark. For all we know, it could be Gelael is using ultrasoft on low fuel while Sainz and Kvyat did all the testing work..

        1. It is true that fuel is an unknown, but in the case of Sainz we know that his time was set on an ultrasoft tyre, and it was reportedly on a short stint (suggesting that his headline time can’t have been set with a high fuel load given it wasn’t that far off his qualifying time either).

          It was more a general point that people act as if Gelael barely knows how to sit the right way in the car, when – although he is by no means a great driver – he’s not as catastrophically bad as some of the drivers who used to be given opportunities to test.

          1. i think u re misinformed that how bad that gelael is.. he is worse than most people think.. i know this because i follow his career and other indonesian driver (haryanto)..

            but the fact that STR choose gelael OVER gasly blows my mind..

          2. Did you not watch F2 this season?? when he is always around 1 second behind his team mate in qualifying? fighting at the back of the grid and (very) rarely fighting for points scraps while his team mate (Nato) is able to fight at the front and scoring some podium and a victory?

            I hate to say this, but objectively speaking, he is the second worst driver in F2..

  4. 2018 – Gelael to Toro Rosso due to Saintz to Renault?

    1. He wouldn’t qualify for a super licence, so he couldn’t be race driver next year even if a vacancy arose and Franz Tost lost his mind. Most likely, he’ll never qualify for one.

      1. @neilosjames of course he could be a race driver. A 300km test at representative speeds and be judged by the FIA as “having demonstrated outstanding ability” will land him a super license if needed.

        1. @mattds Sure, there is that… but then we’d not only need Franz Tost and Helmut Marko to lose the plot, we’d also need the FIA to be willing to make a totally untrue statement, and make an absolute mockery of their points system by allowing someone (one of the kind of drivers the system is in place to keep out) to buy an exemption. Can’t realistically see that happening.

          1. @neilosjames I can see that happening, no doubt. Some money from his side and some pressure from RBR, that’ll do the trick quite handily.

            But, I don’t believe it will happen regardless of his SL aspirations. I do not believe he has just passed Gasly in the queue – afaik he isn’t even in the RBJT. He’s just paying for a few sessions.

  5. Throw money at the team, get some practice sessions. Will never get a seat, I reckon he’ll be kinda like Celis – really not that good, but brings money to the team in return for a few test outings.

  6. Doesn’t Red Bull have a young driver program? why are they giving this guy a chance?? its pathetic. I’m waiting for Kubica practice sessions as Renault said over the weekend they are looking for a way to test him more and will announce in 2-3 weeks.

  7. Wait, if he doesn’t have enough superlicense points, he can do practice sessions?

    1. there’s super license only for free practice session.. it’s different one..

  8. What a joke. Such a great opportunity for someone like Gasly to become accustomed to the current cars and instead they’re giving it to someone who hasn’t won anything in his entire career.

    Yes I know money talks in F1 but I never thought Red Bull would be influenced by pay drivers. Gasly is next in line from the Red Bull program and deserves his chance just like those before him.

  9. I thought street circuits/circuits with limited run-off were the ones where teams would never put a test driver/driver from another series in place of a regular driver for FP1 for obvious reasons.

  10. The worst driver to drive an F1 car in a real session since Chanoch Nissany. An embarrasment for Toro Rosso and F1. Utter farce.

    1. @hahostolze are you sure about that? Wolff also drove some official sessions… While hard to compare, Wolff never ever won a single seater race, which Gelael managed :)

      1. this is news to me.. when did Gelael ever won a single seater race? you did not talk about Formula Pilota or some other junior race in Asia right??

    2. well, I think he is on the same level as Celis so it’s not that bad actually..

  11. Why is everyone mad? Like gelael stole YOUR seat for the weekend?

    Everyone knows this is a bought joy ride. Let the teams run their own teams please.

    1. i guess people needs only “common sense” to acknowledge that STR choose gelael OVER gasly.. what’s the purpose of red bull academy then.. gelael isn’t even their junior..

  12. The thing that annoys me the most about this is that Sérgio Sette Câmara was dropped from the Red Bull Junior Team at the end of last year and he tested for Toro Rossi last year as well. Now that he’s just scored his maiden win in F2, I bet, and I also hope, Red Bull and Toro Rosso are regretting letting him go, because they have to resort to this muppet now

    1. @mattypf1 Sette Camara has had a very mediocre few years. I don’t even understand why he was in the programme in the first place, but I doubt they are regretting letting him go based on just one sprint race win, representing just his second points scoring position this season, in a championship where he’s ranked 23rd.

      1. @mattds well that one sprint race win was luck, he earned that. He led the entire race in convincing fashion and you can argue that the safety car helped him, which I don’t think any difference at all, but he hasn’t proven time and time again that he has pace and he’s still young and has a lot to learn. He’s 19 years old, Gelael is turning 21 this year, I think I’d rather pick young Sergio ahead of most any day of the week. This may be a bias opinion as I’m the fanboy who created his Wikipedia page haha

        1. @mattypf1 no doubt I’d choose Sette Camara over Gelael, that’s for sure. But one sprint race win in F2 isn’t going to make RBR wish they hadn’t let him go, especially not when they see the rest of the results he has obtained this year.
          I think you’re not interpreting this news item in the right way. It doesn’t mean he is taken up in the junior team, nor does it mean they will ever give him a racing seat. They’re just getting some easy money.

  13. Just my opinion as Indonesian, because he rich n clever well educated .. maybe just maybe his technical knowledge about F1 system and its computer logic maybe help STR on develop setup and connection between driver felling and engineer .. so its fit with test driver role

  14. robert steiner
    29th August 2017, 20:06

    what a joke!! I do not understand how Sainz is not leaving to Renault immediately.

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