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Haryanto loses backing from main F1 sponsor

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Rio Haryanto’s hopes of being on the Formula 1 grid in 2017 have been dealt a fresh blow after losing financial backing from his primary sponsor, Pertamina.

Haryanto made his F1 debut in Australia last March, and continued with the Manor team through the rest of the summer until the German Grand Prix.

The first Indonesian driver in F1 history was unable to gather enough funding to make it through the rest of the season, his place instead taken by Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon as he stepped up to a full-time drive starting at Spa in August. Pertamina, the Indonesian state-owned energy company, also announced its withdrawal from Manor shortly thereafter.

Pertamina has now doubled down on its withdrawals, announcing in a statement on Tuesday it wouldn’t continue with Haryanto into 2017 despite making the “maximal effort” to get Haryanto back into a seat.

“This year there will not be a continuation of participation by Pertamina in F1,” spokeswoman Wianda Pusponegoro said in the statement, via Reuters.

Haryanto’s only hope for an F1 seat this year appears to be an encore at Manor anyway, with Sauber looking poised to recruit Manor’s other 2016 driver, Pascal Wehrlein, as the likely replacement for Felipe Nasr.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).