Haryanto becomes Indonesia's first F1 driver

Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:34am EST
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By Kanupriya Kapoor

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Rio Haryanto will become Indonesia's first Formula One driver this season after raising the funds to secure a seat with backmarkers Manor Racing on Thursday.

The 23-year-old, who may need to secure additional financial backing if he is to see out the full 21-race season, will make his debut in Australia on March 20 and will start testing in Spain next week.

"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," Haryanto said.

His signing as team mate to German rookie Pascal Wehrlein completes the grid for the 2016 season.

Haryanto, fourth in the GP2 feeder series last season with three race wins, will be the third Southeast Asian driver to compete in Formula One since the championship started in 1950.

The others were Malaysian Alex Yoong, with Minardi in 2001-2002, and Thailand's Prince Bira (Birabongse Bhanudej) in the 1950s.

Haryanto was already the first Indonesian to drive a Formula One car, having tested with Manor's predecessors Virgin Racing in 2010.

The Indonesian's arrival in Formula One spells disappointment for Britain's Will Stevens, American Alexander Rossi and Spaniard Roberto Merhi, who all raced for Manor last season when the team was known as Marussia.   Continued...