A rookie driver whose rather unimpressive debut race that lasted all of just 17 laps received the most votes in Formula 1’s latest social media endeavour, the Australian Grand Prix ‘Driver of the Day’ prize.
It’s not actually that much of a surprise. Being Indonesia’s first ever Formula 1 driver was always going to attract plenty of interest in his homeland, which has a population of some 250 million people. Hailing from the world’s fourth most-populated country, Haryanto has a potentially huge fan base supporting him.
The ‘Driver of the Day’ concept had been much promoted by Formula One Management (FOM) through its Twitter feed, but amid the furore of the new ‘elimination’ style qualifying system, it seems the folks under Bernie Ecclestone’s watch may have forgotten to reignite interest in the lead-up to Sunday’s season-opening race in Melbourne.
The poll was only opened and hastily promoted over an hour after the race – which was won by Nico Rosberg – had finished, and it quickly emerged that the designers hadn’t exactly done much to ensure the voting system wouldn’t be abused…
— MotorsportM8 (@motorsportm8) March 20, 2016
Let’s face it, the concept was little more than a popularity concept and given it’s extremely poor promotion it was hardly a surprise to see a terrible online voter turnout.
According to the figures published by FOM, Haryanto swept the poll with over 22,000 votes, comfortably clear of the tally’s runner-up, Romain Grosjean, who finished an outstanding sixth in the new Haas F1.
So who won?
Read into the bottom line what you will, although to us it rather looks like FOM was too embarrassed to have a near-invisible backmarker win on debut courtesy of a bit of vote-stacking by his local fans.
Clearly FOM should have locked down the voting system to prevent multiple votes and done a much better job of promoting the poll to begin with given just over 60,000 votes were received against an apparent global TV audience that it vaguely estimates to be “around 400 million” people.
The other point of note was that Daniil Kvyat – who couldn’t even complete the warm-up lap without his Red Bull Racing RB12 coking out – garnered more votes than eight of his peers who not only started the race but also saw the chequered flag. Of course we’re assuming his Russian fans would never dream of trolling the FOM’s online poll – Mr Putin wouldn’t allow such behaviour to occur!
Here’s how the final vote lay:
Images via FOM and George Hitchens Photography