Indonesia's first Formula One driver, Rio Haryanto, fights for his racing career

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Story highlights

  • Rio Haryanto is the first Indonesian to compete in Formula One.
  • The 23-year-old needs to raise sponsorship money to secure his seat on the UK's Manor F1 team.
  • Haryanto's father was a racing driver in Indonesia, and his two brothers are also involved in the sport.

(CNN)Rio Haryanto is a hero in his home country.

In February, the 23 year old made history when he became Indonesia's first Formula One racing driver, signing with UK-based team Manor just weeks before the season began.
    The only Asian driver on this F1 grid and the third Southeast Asian Formula 1 driver in history, Haryanto's success has become a source of national pride for many Indonesians.
    But after competing in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim last weekend, Haryanto is now fighting to keep his F1 dreams alive.
    The Indonesian has run out of sponsorship money, and is urgently seeking sponsors to fund him for the second half of the season.

    The buy in

    On signing Haryanto, Manor stipulated that the young driver deliver $16.35 million in sponsorship to secure his 2016 season seat.
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    So far, Haryanto has been supported by the Indonesian government, as well as state-owned oil company Pertamina.
    But they have only gotten him halfway through the season.
    "I am very lucky to have them for support," Haryanto tells Talk Asia, of his current sponsors. "I can't thank them enough. Without the ... government I don't think this would have been possible."
    Rio Haryanto on practise day at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
    With the season now on a four-week hiatus until the end of August, Haryanto has a short window in which to raise the remaining funding.
    Haryanto's recent performance may hinder his chances of securing funding or financial leniency from his team. The Indonesian racer placed 20th in the German Grand Prix and 21st at the Hungarian.

    Dream catcher

    F1 racing has been a lifelong dream for Haryanto, who says his goal is to become world champion.
    "When I was six, my dad bought me a go-kart and I started practicing on weekends," says the Surakarta-born driver.
    Racing runs in the family -- his father was a veteran racer in Indonesia, and his two older brothers are also involved in the sport.
    "Then I started to get to the races, firstly in the national championship and then moving up to the Asian (series)," he recalls.
    "It's been so many years of racing and, you know, in the end to get my dream come true as a Formula One driver is a great feeling."

    A little inspiration

    Growing up, Haryanto says his hero was German racing legend Michael Schumacher.
    When he was five or six years old, Haryanto came face-to-face with the now seven-time Formula One World Champion.
    "My dad took me to the Malaysian Grand Prix, and eventually I was lucky enough to get a picture taken with Michael."
    Haryanto hopes he can provide the same kind of inspiration to aspiring Indonesian racers.
    "A lot of people in Indonesia are starting to look at Formula One, (because) they now know we have Indonesian drivers," he says.
    "I think there will be a lot more interest in Formula One, for sure."
    Watch more of the interview with Rio Haryanto on Talk Asia this month. Air times: August 4 (Thursday), 4:30 a.m. ET, 11:30 p.m. ET; August 5 (Friday), 10 p.m. ET; August 6 (Saturday), 12:30 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m. ET; August 13 (Saturday), 7:30 a.m. ET; August 14 (Sunday), 12:30 a.m. ET, 11 p.m. ET.