Indonesia's first F1 driver is a good-looker who lives in S'pore

Indonesia's first F1 driver is a good-looker who lives in S'pore

SINGAPORE - When Indonesia's first Formula One driver Rio Haryanto makes his debut with the Manor Racing team at the new season on March 20, he is likely to set the hearts of female fans a flutter.

The only Asian to be on the starting grid boasts not only a chiselled jaw and dashing good looks, but also a hot bod to match.

Rio, 23, will be the third Southeast Asian driver, after a long absence, to compete in Formula One since the championship started in 1950, reported The Jakarta Post. The other two were Malaysian Alex Yoong (2001 and 2002) and Thailand's Prince Birabongse Bhanudej in the 1950s.

So all eyes will be on Rio, who reportedly lives in Singapore, when he competes against the likes of champion drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the 21-race series, starting in Melbourne in two weeks' time.

Born in Solo, Indonesia, he is a business management graduate, having studied here at private school FTMSGlobal Academy.

Sponsored by Indonesia's state energy company Pertamina, the rookie driver has managed to capture a huge following in Indonesia, all eager to see their new sports icon flying their national flag high.

"I hope by working hard, I will not only represent Indonesia in F1 but achieve [something]," he said in a press conference in February.

When he is not competing, Rio spends four hours a day to build up his stamina by swimming, jogging, or working out in gym, according to his website.

He likes high-protein food, and even cooks his favourite fish - salmon - often.

Apart from his love of racing, Rio hopes to be involved in his family business - his father runs a company that produces Kiky brand writing books.

He also likes to do his bit for the community. Whenever he returns to his hometown, he would visit an orphanage and share his adventures with the kids, like a big brother hoping to inspire and motivate his younger siblings, according to his website.

Career jump

Rio clinched a place in the Manor team after its owner Stephen Fitzpatrick was impressed by his performance.

He had said in a press statement: "He is tenacious on and off the track and made a big impression on last year's GP2 battle."

On Rio's big fan base in Indonesia, Fitzpatrick said they would be a booster for his team and for F1.

"They are keen to see [Rio] on the grid and we're confident that we'll see him enjoying some exciting battles in the year ahead."

Rio's racing experience began when he was only six, taking part in the national and international Gokart arena. He joined Formula Asia 2.0 racing competition at 15 and emerged the winner among Asian drivers.

In the following year he came in first again at Formula BMW Pacific 2009 racing competition.

At 17, he was qualified to get Formula 1 super licence from Virgin F1 race in a test in Abu Dhabi in 2010. Since then, he had been racing in the GP2 Series with EQ8 Caterham Racing Team.


Milestones in Rio Haryanto's career

* Sept. 5, 1999: Wins Pertamina National Kart Championship

* Sept. 23, 2001: Wins Asian Formula Cadet Kart Festival III

* 2005: Wins World Kart Challenge

* 2009: Wins the Formula BMW Pacific championship with 11 victories from 15 races

* Nov. 16, 2010: Becomes world's youngest driver to test drive an F1

* July 23, 2011: Wins 5th Series of Race 1 at Nurburgring, Germany

* 2011: Voted Person of the Year (POTY) and wins International Motorsport Driver Achievement Award

* July 13, 2012: Passes F1 test (qualified for F1 Super License), Silverstone, the UK

* 2012: Youngest driver at GP2 Series

* June 30, 2013: GP2 Series runner-up, Silverstone

* May 24, 2014: GP2 Series runner-up, Monte Carlo, Monaco

* April 19, 2015: Wins Bahrain sprint-race, first GP2 Series win after four years competing

* July 5, 2015: Storms to his third sprint-race victory in the GP2 Series in Silverstone

* Dec. 18, 2015 : Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi lobbies businesspeople and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno to garner support for Rio's F1 bid

* Feb. 11, 2016: Manor managing director Abdulla Boulsien has meeting with Imam and Rio in Jakarta

* Feb. 17, 2016: Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) pledges support for Rio

* Feb. 18, 2016: Becomes Indonesia's first F1 driver after securing a deal with Manor

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