Rio Haryanto might have his backers to thank for helping him get into Formula 1, but it seems the pockets of the Indonesian government-owned Pertamina oil and natural gas conglomerate might not be deep enough to keep him on the grid.
With the backing seemingly coming up short just four races in to his Formula 1 career, the Indonesian government has partnered with one of the country’s telecom companies to help crowdfund the 23-year-old.
Local fans who wish to support Haryanto, who races with the number 88, can text RIO to 7788.
“Basically it’s the sports minister’s idea to generate funding,” Haryanto told Reuters at the Russian Grand Prix on Thursday. “They want to get as much as they can to get the budget for Formula 1.
“You send a text message to the number and then its about 5,000 Rupiah (40 cents US) per message if you are willing to support me to have some extra funding.
“It’s been going already for one week and I don’t know what amount we have got so far. It’s going quite well and we’ll see what’s the result,” he added.
Communications Minister Rudiantara told CNN Indonesia that supporters should make their texting “like taking medicine, three times a day”.
This is not the first time that a team or driver has resorted to crowd-funding. A similar campaign was used to help the Caterham F1 Team make it to the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2014, although it was not enough to stop the team folding during the subsequent off-season.
Manor Racing, which is powered by customer Mercedes power units this year, has closed the gap to the lower midfield in the off-season – a remarkable improvement on their 2015 form – and Haryanto is confident that the team will soon be mixing it with the midfield.
“This year we can fight with the Sauber and Renault and every race we are still making progress,” said Haryanto, who was second in a GP2 Series race in Sochi last year.
“It’s good to be back to the tracks that I know.”
Image via XPB Images