Motor racing: Haryanto has funding until 11th race, says manager

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2016 10:27 AM

By Alan Baldwin

MONACO (Reuters) - Indonesian Formula One driver Rio Haryanto needs more money to keep his seat at the Manor Racing team, but he is safe for the first half of the season, his manager said on Wednesday.

"The sponsorship is all paid for up until the 11th race," Piers Hunnisett told Reuters at the Monaco Grand Prix. "No problem there. That's fully paid. It's just the process in Indonesia with the government."

The Formula One season has a record 21 races this year, with Haryanto making his debut as Indonesia's first grand prix driver. Sunday's Monaco showcase is the sixth round.

Haryanto earlier acknowledged there were "rumors" that he would only be able to do half the season but hoped to stay.

"My management are working really hard to get the full season," he told reporters.

Hunnisett said he spent all last week in Indonesia talking to would-be sponsors and government officials and was confident the shortfall would be made up.

"I think in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully before Canada (the seventh race on June 12), we'll get something confirmed," he said.

Haryanto's primary sponsor is state-owned oil company Pertamina, which so far has contributed five million euros ($5.57 million) towards the funding needed to secure the race seat at the sport's smallest team.

"The news in Indonesia is huge, all the ministers support Rio, the media and the public," Hunnisett said. "There's a possibility that Pertamina may come up with some additional funds.

"Formula One is all very new to Indonesia, it will be incredible if Rio didn't finish the season," he said. "I'm quite confident he will be there for the year. But in all governments, not just Indonesia, it's never easy or straightforward."

Hunnisett told Reuters in February that Haryanto, 23, had a contract for the full season.

Since then, however, there has been considerable speculation about how much money he still has to bring to the British-based team to ensure the contract is not terminated. Indonesian media has put the total needed at 15 million euros ($16.72 million).

One crowd-funding initiative, backed by the Indonesian government and local telecoms companies, aims to raise money through text messaging.

Haryanto has 514,000 followers on Twitter, more than many established F1 racers. Indonesia has a population of around 250 million.

Hunnisett said he had not seen the latest figures for the texting initiative.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Larry King)