Rio Haryanto actually won the popular vote as F1 debuted its new official ‘driver of the day’ plaudit in Australia.
Many were surprised in the hours after the 2016 season opener when the results of the poll were not published.
Belatedly, the winner was declared as having been Romain Grosjean, who powered team newcomer Haas to debut points in Melbourne.
“In the interests of fairness,” the official F1 website explained, “multiple votes identified as originating from the same source were not counted.”
Indeed, unofficial statistics posted by Twitter users showed that it was in fact Indonesian rookie Haryanto who won, having attracted more than 22,000 votes in comparison to Frenchman Grosjean’s less than 14,000.
Haryanto, strongly backed by the Indonesian government, actually had a troubled debut weekend. His awkward pitlane crash in practice earned him a penalty, he started the race last and retired with a technical problem.
“Problems aside, my debut weekend was really special and the support I’ve had from the crowd here and everyone back in Indonesia has been incredible,” he said.
With a population of 250 million, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world.
© RIF | GMM