Rio Haryanto could be stepping up to Formula 1 in 2016, if a leaked letter appearing to confirm the availability of substantial financial backing from the Indonesian government proves genuine.
The GP2 driver, who won three races in 2015, is considered to be creeping into contention for one of the two Manor drives available courtesy of his substantial state-backed financial support and prior ties with the team under its former Marussia guise.
Having held a reserve role in 2012, the prospect of Haryanto landing a race drive in F1 was then raised by his presence in the team during testing in Abu Dhabi. Furthering the speculation, a letter has now surfaced on the social network Reddit
from Minister of Youth and Sport Imam Nahrawi appearing to confirm a transfer of 15 million euros to secure him a seat.
"Regarding to our discussions with Rio Haryanto and his management, we are pleased to confirm that the Ministry of Youth and Sport of The Republic of Indonesia will guarantee a payment of 15 (fifteen) Million Euro for Rio Haryanto to compete [in] the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship with the Manor Formula 1 team.
"The payments will be made via several instalments in return for the branding space take [sic] on the race cars and drivers race wear plus a host of promotional activities to promote Indonesia and associated companies."
Tweeted by Haryanto's manager Piers Hunnisett, the deal – if genuine - would satisfy Manor's desire for a wealthy driver, though the youngster does not currently qualify for a superlicence under the current system despite finishing fourth in GP2 this season. Fellow prospective Manor driver Pascal Wehrlein, who is in negotiations, presents a similar problem.
It comes as Haryanto completed his best season in GP2 this year, posing the biggest threat to Stoffel Vandoorne in the early rounds of the season. Should he arrive in F1, he would become the first Indonesian to race in F1, a potentially massive coup in terms of emerging markets, while he would likely run with Pertamina, Indonesia's huge state-backed oil company.