Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lotus F1 unveils New Car in London

Malaysian F1 team a dream come true - thanks to the many sacrifices

Dreams do come true. Just ask Air Asia CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes.
Five months ago, he was given the task of forming the Malaysian Lotus F1 Racing team.
Not one to shirk from responsibilities, Fernandes assumed the post of team principal and started from scratch.
With financial backing from the Malaysian government and some private individuals, he embarked on the mammoth task of building a car and putting a team together to race in the season-opener in Bahrain next month.
Lotus, however, won’t be the only new kid on the block. They will have three others for company – Virgin Racing, Campos Meta and USF1 Racing.
Fernandes admitted that there were a lot of uncertainties at the beginning.
But, as they took one step at a time and started to fit the right people in the right positions, things began to happen.
And all the hard work and sacrifices finally paid off, culminating in the launch of the visually striking green and yellow Lotus car at the Royal Horticulture Hall, in the heart of Westminster, on Friday.
And Fernandes stood tall – and proud – among the drivers – Italy’s Jarno Trulli, Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen and Malaysia’s very own Fairuz Fauzy (test driver) – on the stage as the T127, built in Norfolk, England, was unveiled.
“It has been a long five months. We started with nothing but today we are here with the machine, the drivers and a crew of about 130 to make our start in Formula One racing,” Fernandes said in his opening speech at the ceremony to officially mark the return of Lotus to Formula One racing after 16 years.
“There have been many unforgettable moments on this journey but, most importantly, I had the backing of people like Datuk Kamaruddin Meranun (Air Asia deputy CEO) and SM Nasaruddin SM Nasimuddin (Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd chairman), who shared my vision.”
And, as far as Fernandes is concerned, getting Mike Gascoyne to build the car was the coup de grace.
“He (Gascoyne) will give you a better idea of the car but, suffice to say, we are all excited at seeing our dreams become a reality,” said Fernandes.
“I must thank the team for a great job in getting the car ready. We will now test it and, hopefully, get good results.”
Fernandes also thanked the Malaysian government, especially Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, for its support.
Fernandes also outlined in detail the team’s targets.
“To be honest, we are not expecting to win from the word go. But there has to be a gradual progression. We want to secure points and, of course, to win. But, for this year, we need to stay competitive and learn,” he said.

“I would certainly like to see us get on the podium.”
But, more importantly for Fernandes and the team, they want to start off by being ahead of the other three new teams.
“I think that is the realistic target for us. We will start to test the car and for now, we are not sure what lies ahead,” said Fernandes.
“Many were sceptical that we would even have a car ready. But here we are and I believe that we will be ready to start in Bahrain.”
The launching ceremony was a proud moment indeed for Malaysians and their British counterparts as they collaborated to bring Lotus back into Formula One.
“This is not the old Lotus but a new one embarking on a new journey,” said Fernandes.
The Lotus F1 Racing team will be managed by the 1Malaysia Racing Team.
The team, who will be flying the Malaysian flag, are a privately-funded project jointly owned by Tune Group and Naza Group.
Tune Group is jointly owned by Fernandes and Kamarudin, one of the team’s directors.
Other team directors are Naza Group chief executive officers SM Nasarudin and Zahri Ismail.

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