Rio Haryanto is using the time in between the Bahrain Grand Prix and Chinese Grand Prix to do a promotional tour in his native Indonesia. We have been sent some videos from a reader and these need to be seen to be believed. Just look at those crowds at the Kota Kasablanka Shopping mall. He’s like The Beatles and David Beckham morphed into one.
In a era when F1 seems determined to turn fans off, it is a big boost to have such a high profile figure in a emerging economy of 250 million. The current World Champion, Lewis Hamilton has zero appeal to the masses even in his home country where he finished 4th in the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards despite winning the F1 title. He trailed behind the rightful winner Andy Murray and an athlete an a Rugby League player. For those who are not aware of Rugby League, its a regional sport, played in the North of England, yet their big name is more popular than Lewis Hamilton in the UK.
Haryanto is also good for good for Indonesia a relatively new democracy where there are often tensions between the population but as a nation they are all united behind Rio Haryanto and we are slowly learning just how important a figure he is in Indonesia. In many ways, he reminds of the role Ayrton Senna played in Brazil in the 80’s and early 90’s.