BARCELONA (Reuters) - Rio Haryanto’s manager has calmed fears that Indonesia’s first Formula One driver may have to raise more money to last the whole season.
“There was some speculation but it’s now all clear. He has a contract for the full season,” Piers Hunnisett told Reuters after the 23-year-old’s first day of testing since signing for the Manor team.
Haryanto has brought at least five million euros ($5.51 million) to the sport’s smallest team, thanks to state oil sponsor Pertamina, and will be the only Asian driver on the starting grid.
Although he tested previously for the team in its former guises, and is familiar with the Circuit de Catalunya from competing in the GP2 feeder series, Wednesday was still a momentous day.
Haryanto completed 78 laps, bringing out red flags when he spun into the gravel, and was slowest of the 12 drivers who took part in the day’s sessions by quite some margin.
”I made a small mistake and that’s it. There was no damage. We managed to get going in the afternoon again,“ he told reporters. ”It was a very productive day for me and the team.
“It’s been two or three months that I am out of the car, it’s quite tough but I managed to do the run plan. I just have to focus on my job and not think of the pressure.”
“Formula One has always been the ultimate goal so it’s a dream come true,” he continued. “I think I will get used to it, day by day. The general feeling of the car was much better compared to the previous one.”
Hunnisett, who also managed India’s first Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan, said Indonesia had ‘gone ballistic’ with excitement at Haryanto’s breakthrough and south east Asia as a whole stood to benefit.
Malaysia and Singapore, which both host races, could expect to see more Indonesian fans than ever.
“It’s taken a lot of work because the motorsport world is very small and, like in India, advertising budgets are very small compared to European ones,” he said of his driver’s road to Formula One.
“When you talk Formula One money in those countries it’s huge money: ‘How many hospitals can we build?’ But eventually they see the global benefits of Formula One and it really puts the country on the map.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis