Rio Haryanto will become Indonesia’s first Formula 1 driver when he races for Manor Racing at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
The former GP2 Series race winner will make his debut alongside fellow rookie Pascal Wehrlein in the team, and having been backed by the Indonesian government to grab the drive, he is proud to representing his country in the sport.
“This has been my dream for such a long time and I’m enjoying every minute,” said Haryanto. “It’s an incredible time for me and my country.
“The support means so much to me so I want to include my fans every step of the way.”
Haryanto participated in half of the pre-season testing dates at the Circuit de Catalunya with the team, and although he would have preferred more time to prepare for the season, he felt he made good progress in the Mercedes-powered MRT05.
“It was only four days but we packed a lot into that space of time,” said Haryanto. “We covered pretty much everything; single lap, race sim, qualifying sim, practice starts, practice stops, plus a whole list of other race weekend procedures.
“Of course, you would always like more time to prepare, but I’m ready.”
Haryanto is eager to get the weekend started and experience his first Formula 1 qualifying session and race, even if his media responsibilities in and around his homeland have been relatively extensive.
“I’m lucky that I’ve been in Indonesia since testing, so I’m pretty close to this time zone anyway,” revealed Haryanto. “There are quite a lot of media making the trip to Melbourne.
“I want to take it all in, as it’s a weekend I’ll remember for the rest of my life. On track, I’m looking forward to my first qualifying – and the race of course – but I think the qualifying format is going to be interesting; it’s something new for everyone.
“Then, of course, the race. Lining up on the starting grid is going to be pretty special but there’s a lot to do before then!”