Top Indonesian racer Rio Haryanto is currently racing in his third season of GP2, having switched from the Barwa Addax Team to the EQ8 Caterham Racing team for 2014.
The twenty-one year old from Surakarta is hoping to have a strong remainder of the 2014 GP2 Series season having taken his second career series podium last time out in Monaco.
He admitted Joining Caterham was somewhat based on them being connected to the Formula One world, but states that he feels right at home at the team. He also feels his 2014 American team-mate Alexander Rossi and himself make for a very strong driver line-up and he expects them to challenge for good results throughout the rest of the year.
“EQ8 Caterham Racing is a well-respected team in GP2 and has had numerous wins and podiums over the years,” said Haryanto to The Checkered Flag. “It is no secret that having a Formula One team was obviously another major factor but I was very comfortable and confident from the first day I tested with them. It felt like the right thing to do at the time and looking at what we have achieved so far this season it definitely was the right decision for me.
“EQ8 Caterham Racing is well established and we all work together to make improvements. Alexander is a talented driver and has had some bad luck but we are definitely a strong team and one to watch for the rest of the season.”
For 2013, Haryanto raced for the Barwa Addax Team but could only finish on the podium once – an impressive second place in the sprint race at Silverstone – on his way to a lowly nineteenth in the championship.
“I went through some difficult times with Addax last year; it was not the year we wanted to achieve,” admitted Haryanto. “Despite the difficulties we had, the team had taught me a lot of things and I also gained many new experiences from them.”
Haryanto feels he has developed a lot as a racing driver since making the move to Europe from Asia in 2010. He can see that there are more competitive drivers in Europe than Asia that means he has to push more out of his car to get the results. He also admits that he is still learning about GP2, especially with the degradation of the Pirelli tyres affecting races so much this year.
“I feel I have learnt a lot especially when I moved from Asia to Europe,” said Haryanto. “In Asia there would be about 10 drivers who are competitive but in Europe almost all the drivers are competitive, so then I have to push very hard each time especially as 0.1 sec can make huge difference on the grid.
“I still learn a lot each time I’m driving because of the tyres. Pirelli has many different compounds so it can be different on each track and there are many ways of driving to make the best out of each compound. My aim is to be in the top 5 in the championship and I think we are capable of doing that. We were competitive in the pre season test and we are now.”
The pre-season tests in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain indicated that Caterham were going to be one of the strongest teams in GP2 during 2014, but the opening round of the season in Bahrain was disappointing, with neither Haryanto nor his team-mate Rossi scoring points. The following round in Spain was a vast improvement, with the Indonesian scoring his first points of the season with a fifth in the feature race.
“It was very frustrating, Bahrain was a tough weekend for us, we had a good qualifying session where I ended P5 and we were expecting good points that weekend,” said Haryanto. “In the race we struggled with the tyre degradation that put us out of a point scoring position.
“From there we were able to bounce back in Barcelona and Monaco where we scored 26 points, so I’m very happy with the team and confident that we can score more points in the remaining races.”
Moving on to the Monaco round, Haryanto had his best weekend of the seasonto date, taking his second career GP2 podium with third position in the sprint race. He admitted it was not an easy weekend around the streets of Monaco, and he was delighted to finish third in the Saturday morning race.
“It was not easy; I had to give my best every time I was on the track. To me the concentration plays a big role and the team gave me a good car so we were competitive right from the start and able to achieve our first podium together.
“It was very tough as I said, to concentrate and drive fast with no mistakes is really hard at Monaco but I really enjoyed it when I crossed the line, it makes me and the team even hungrier for more success.
“I really hope that we can repeat the success in Monaco and that our remaining race weekends are strong. I’m confident that the team will deliver its best to give me the best car and also strategy.”
In-between races Haryanto enjoys spending time with family and friends, but is currently towards the end of studying for a bachelor degree in business management that keeps him busy around his training schedule.
“I normally go home and enjoy time with my family and friends but I am still finishing my bachelor degree in business management so that is keeping me busy. Besides that I still train hard during the break and try to increase my fitness level further.”
Haryanto has had two tastes of F1 machinery in the past, participating in both the 2010 and 2012 young driver tests for Marussia. He is interested to see how the 2014 F1 cars differ to those he’s previous tested in that earned him his F1 Superlicence.
“I had an F1 rookie test in 2010 and 2012, it was such an epic experience and I always want to get back into an F1 car again. It would be very interesting now with so many changes to the new cars and the regulations so I really don’t know what the car would be like.”