Rio Haryanto’s Formula 1 comeback has been dealt a major blow with his primary sponsor, Pertamina, dropping its involvement within the sport. 

Haryanto, who was the first Indonesian to race in Formula 1, completed the first 12 races of the 2016 season before losing his seat to Esteban Ocon as Haryanto’s sponsors failed to meet contractual obligations.

“This year there will not be a continuation of participation by Pertamina in F1,” spokeswoman Wianda Pusponegoro said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Of course we regret this very much, but we have already made maximal efforts for Rio and Indonesia.”

The energy company was a driving factor in getting Haryanto into Formula 1, and with news emerging earlier this week that Pascal Wehrlein had reached an agreement with Sauber to partner Marcus Ericsson, Haryanto’s only hope is to land one of the two vacant seats with his former team, Manor.

However, despite being handed a major setback, Haryanto’s manager Piers Hunnisett remains hopeful that the Indonesian will continue to race in Formula 1.

“We are still working on a plan to keep Rio in Formula 1, people in the Formula 1 world felt he did a good job and he deserves to be there,” Hunnisett told Reuters.

“Obviously, we were hoping to move into a team like Sauber – that was the plan but things are going to slow down a little bit.”

Image via George Hitchens Photography 

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