Rio Haryanto says he heads into his maiden Formula 1 World Championship race feeling immense pride as he prepares to become the first Indonesian driver to start an F1 grand prix.
The GP2 race winner steps up to F1 this season after penning a deal with the Manor Racing team over the winter, in doing so becoming the first person hailing from Indonesia to secure a race seat having previously held reserve roles with both this team – under the Marussia guise – and Caterham.
Boosted by huge backing in his home country, where Haryanto has become one of the country's highest profile sports stars and regularly attracts massive support across social media, Haryanto admits he is thrilled to be flying the flag for Indonesia.
“There's been tremendous support back home,” he said. “Obviously to be able to compete in Formula One is a great thing. I'm very proud and I'm sure the whole nation are proud too to have me in Formula One.”
Reflecting on the challenges he faces as a rookie, Haryanto is nonetheless confident he can score points with a Manor team considered to be in the ascendency after a number of key technical deals over the winter.
“It's a much better package that we have in comparison to last year and that's the goal, to score points. We don't know when but we'll try our best every race as the races will be long and let's see what we can do.”