Australian racing driver Luis Leeds. (Photo: Gregory Lenormand via luisleeds96.com)
Australian Driver Luis Leeds Asks Jokowi's Help to Join Williams
BY :HERU ANDRIYANTO
NOVEMBER 25, 2019
Jakarta. Australian-born Luis Leeds is asking sponsorship from the Indonesian government after the racing driver got an offer from legendary Williams Formula 1 Team to join its driver academy.
Representatives of the 19-year-old have asked President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to facilitate Indonesian supports, be it through state-owned enterprises or private companies, to sponsor his move to Williams.
Luis, who was born to an Indonesian mother, urgently needs generous sponsors because Williams has given him until Dec. 1 to answer.
“Luis is sincerely asking the government to facilitate the process of acquiring concrete supports from state-owned or private companies so that he can magnify Indonesia in F1 races watched by billions of people every year,” his representatives said in an open letter.
The letter says that if Luis doesn’t respond to Williams’ offer by Dec. 1, he will lose a chance to join the driver academy.
“President Joko Widodo in his speech ‘Indonesian Vision’ [on July 14] called for contribution by the Indonesian diaspora to the national development and he has also repeatedly asked the Indonesian diaspora to return home and work for the nation,” it reads.
Luis came to Jakarta to meet Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali on Tuesday, accompanied by his mother Maria Leeds, who was born in the East Java town of Ngawi.
The Formula 4 grand prix winner reportedly expressed his willingness to obtain the Indonesian citizenship, but according to the law he must wait until reaches 21.
Williams has offered Luis a training package, not yet an F1 seat, in a letter seen by the Jakarta Globe.
“We propose working with Luis in a variety of areas such as simulator driving, track learning and prep, driver feedback, car development and engineering education. Our sport is no longer simply about driving the car but demands so much more of the drivers and we aim to fully prepare Luis for his assault in F2 and beyond,” the Nov. 21 letter reads.
If accepted, Williams will evaluate Luis for possible F1 races after he completes the two-year program.
Luis is not the first driver to ask help from the Indonesian government to join a Formula 1 team.
Indonesia’s first and only Formula 1 driver is Rio Haryanto, who reportedly received sponsorships worth hundreds of billions of rupiah from the government and state firms to race with Manor Racing Team in the 2016 season.
However, Rio was demoted to a reserved driver before the end of the season after the team failed to get in full the promised funding and he ended his F1 career without scoring a point.