Friday, September 25, 2009

Karamjit's APRC Johor Shakedown

It has been confirmed that Malaysia's car rally ace driver Karamjit Singh and his navigator Jagdev Singh will be replaced by Alister McRae and Bill Hayes for the upcoming Indonesian round of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) to be held early next month. The official reason given by Proton on the duo being replaced is that Karamjit is not available. Now, is Karamjit injured, sick or what? None of that. He is simply not fast enough as seen in the previous 5th round of the APRC held in Johor, Malaysia last month. And why is that so?

The Satria Neo Super 2000 is an immensely powerful car even though it’s normally-aspirated. But if one had been driving a RH-drive car all this while, it might be a tad difficult to adapt to a LH-drive car and that was exactly what Karamjit was experiencing. Difficulty in handling a LH-drive car. Mind you, steering with your left hand and changing gears with your right is not as simple as said than done. We’re not talking about a Sunday drive here, please remember that.

As seen in Johor, it was obvious that Karamjit had difficulty. The expression on his face (from on-board cam) while driving and after showed just that. Guessed he was left a frustrated man, not to mention his navigator.

To those not familiar with the Satria Neo Super 2000, it is currently available only in LH-drive version and news is that the RH-drive version won’t be available in the immediate future. So Karamjit and Co would have to wait much longer for it. Too bad for them.

As for the upcoming Round 6 of the APRC to be held in Makassar, Indonesia, here’s wishing the Proton team all the best, come rain or shine! CIAO!


262738#ixzz0S78NxHQ5
video

Updated:

Gunaseelan Rajoo
FYI ...Karam drives a left hand drive car for his daily use and its been like that for a good few years now...so its not that, yes its not easy to drive a left hand drive , but we r talking abt karam here..FYI also he drove a LHD ford X works car in Thailand in 2001 or 02 and won in many races ! 2 years ago he drove a evo 9 in China and that was a LHD also...he was not slow ...clocking top 3 times in all the stages ....so thats not the thing here at the moment ...why is he not in Indonesia driving the Malaysian Car ????









Tuesday, September 22, 2009

F1 - For Malaysians Or Cronies?

The Government's idea for Malaysia to have its very own 1Malaysia F1 team in Formula 1 next year was indeed very brave (albeit risky) and raised many eyebrows. Leveraging on a Proton-owned Lotus-powered racing team, this initiative seems better than an orbiting space tourist if the team could give F1 giants like Ferrari and McLaren a run for their monies but that's highly unlikely! The team will be a partnership between the government and the private sectors especially AirAsia Berhad and the Naza Group. Nobody can deny the fact that Formula 1 is indeed one of the greatest platforms in advertising and marketing.

Formula-1 teams expenditure 2008But of course, the joke doing its rounds in the country now is that it would do the people a huge favour if Proton and/or Lotus could at least rectify its 'legendary' window-problem first before trying to take on Formula 1. Many had also sarcastically hoped that the 1Malaysia F1 team drivers (whoever they may be) could drive faster than Formula 1’s safety car's driver. But then, was the government's plan a wise move since even giants like BMW and Honda have decided to quit due to F1's extraordinary high cost? BMW and Honda’s F1 teams were spending US$367 million and US$398 million respectively in 2008 alone. Even the team that spent the least, Force India, was spending US$122 million in 2008 and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to calculate how much the 1Malaysia F1 team would be spending.

Well, you can argue that the expenditure is the problem of the private sector, in this case AirAsia Berhad and the Naza Group. But then again, why would smart people like AirAsia and Naza decide to waste hundreds of millions of dollars in a project such as Formula 1? Favours in return? Wait a minute, AirAsia's Kamaruddin mentioned the company is spending only £10 million (RM57 million) initially, so it seems
Proton and/or the government (public’s money) will be spending huge amount of monies for this project. Have they forgotten the disastrous experience and humiliation experienced by the country in 2001? It took the main sponsor, Magnum Corporation Berhad only three F1 races before the lottery company threw in the towel, sending the then Malaysian F1 driver, Alexander Yoong, to drive in A1GP instead.

Alex Yoong F1

Sure, people said Alexander Yoong was the wrong candidate to drive in Formula 1 (is he making a comeback?). He was there because of his father’s close connection with the then Mahathir’s administration. But since then, do we really have the local talent and quality to drive such a powerful racing car? Will we try the same path as Alexander Yoong's again and in the process ending up at the bottom of the chart? Maybe they’ve shortlisted some daredevil “Mat Rempits” as the future heroes. Otherwise, it would be misleading to declare that the F1 car will be designed, manufactured, tested and basically everything is “Made-in-Malaysia” as announced. Lotus may have the experience in the Formula 1 arena but its last F1 race was way back in 1994, and that's more than a decade ago. Since then, F1 have undergone tremendous changes both in technology and regulations, and a question that begs to be answered is whether does Lotus still have what it takes to pose a real threat/challenge on the grid?
So, is this F1 project genuine, or is it just to enable political cronies to dry up the country’s money?

In terms of advertising, it wouldn’t do AirAsia or Naza any favours if the team
continuously fails to finish the race, let alone winning. It’s a known fact that Formula 1 via the governing body, FIA, is desperate for participants (and of course funds) especially after BMW and Honda decided to leave the race. Hence, it was speculated that the entry bar has been lowered for new participants. Nevertheless, the government has to be transparent in disclosing the spending of public’s money in this Formula 1 project because nobody will believe that the government and Proton will not be spending a single cent in such a high-profile project. But one thing is for sure – if this project fails, you can be assured that some companies (or rather cronies) would have made hundreds of millions in the process. One only has to remember that the ruling federal government is flushed with monies because it’s holding back the monies allocated for states that were captured by the opposition (in last GE held on March 08, 2008) especially Selangor and Penang. Therefore, the nation - 1Malaysia - awaits judgment day, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two Year Suspended Ban For Renault F1

;">

FIA president Max Mosley arrives for a race-fixing hearing at the International Automobile Federation’s headquarters in Paris Sept 21, 2009. — Reuters pic

PARIS, Sept 21 — The Renault team have been given a two-year suspended ban from the Formula One world championship after admitting to race-fixing, the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said on Monday.

The French car manufacturer, appearing before an FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris, had said it would not contest accusations the team ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash his car into a wall at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix so that Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso might win.

“The ING Renault F1 team admitted that the team had conspired with its driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in breach of the International Sporting Code and F1 Sporting Regulations’“ the FIA statement read.

The suspended ban will last until the end of the 2011 season.

“The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1’s breach relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity,” the statement added.

“Renault F1’s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself.”

Former team boss Flavio Briatore was also banned from any further involvement in Formula One, including driver management.

The team’s head of engineering Pat Symonds was banned for five years from FIA-run events.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso was exonerated of any involvement at the hearing.

“Mr Alonso was not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations,” the FIA said.

Piquet Jr had been granted immunity by the FIA before the hearing.

FIA president Max Mosley told reporters after the hearing that the team would remain in Formula One, but Renault F1 chairman Bernard Rey did not comment. — Reuters

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

Hopefully with just a suspended ban handed down to them, Renault would choose to continue racing in F1 and not pulling out from it. As the conspirators of the 'crashgate' are no more with the team, it is only right that Renault chooses to stay to race another day. It would be a great loss to F1 if they choose to pull out as the team had on occasions provided world champions, and is still a team to be reckoned with, what with former champion Fernando Alonso in the team. Therefore, it is hoped that cool heads will prevail at Renault in the fervent hope that they chose to remain, come rain or shine! CIAO!


Friday, September 18, 2009

What Now, MCA?

D-Day for MCA when it heads into its EGM on Oct10 in the fervent hope of ending a crisis that has ripped apart the party and stymied reform efforts after being trounced in the last GE. Five motions are up for voting, but the ones that will have the biggest implications on the party are the no-confidence motion against DS Ong Tee Keat's leadership and the motion to reinstate DS Dr Chua Soi Lek to his post.

Friction between party president OTK and his former deputy CSL is the main source of the tension that has stupefied party members post-GE, and a resolution of the animosity is imperative if the party is to move forward. The task weighs heavily on the 2,377 central delegates, who are aware of the wider implication for the party as the second largest component of BN. MCA members ought to think of the party's symbiotic relationship to Umno.

If the party can't stand up to Umno, then it can't win Chinese votes. If it can stand up to Umno, then it might weaken BN itself. So the party is in a dilemma caused by the BN influence shrinking.


What delegates would do well to remember at this point is what is good for the country, and what kind of future they imagine the country should have, and that members should think long term and be firm on a secular and multiracial country.

CSL has always been seen as having a good relationship with Umno while OTK's was said to be not as warm. Questions have arisen whether CSL's close relations with Umno would result in him and MCA being more accommodating, perpetuating an ineffective coalition as if MCA is oblivious to the reasons the Chinese community abandoned the party at last year's GE. But between the two of them, it’s not an easy choice.

CSL will always have his sex scandal hanging over him, although it’s no longer sensational. The manner in which he was booted out, however, has not gone down well with some grassroot members. To have been voted in as deputy president about 10 months after the scandal is a signal that some in the party are willing to overlook his indiscretion.

On the other hand, OTK has been hailed as a hero for his pursuit of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal. But he also has the allegations of receiving a RM10mil donation from the chief executive of the turnkey contractor for PKFZ hanging over him. Granted that he had sued Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd CEO DS Tiong King Sing on the allegations, the matter will cast a pall over him until it is cleared in court.


A vote for CSL could be a signal that delegates want a change of leadership but without knowing how to go about it, but at least they express dissatisfaction, and that is a start. Most Malaysians condemn monetary corruption much more than they do sex trysts with a mistress. But one could not say a leader is sympathetic to reforms and not the other, because things are not that simple.

However, CSL's sex scandal should not be discounted totally as a liability, as adultery is still a morality issue for many. It would also become more interesting, post-EGM, when the party would have to strengthen under one leader and that is why OTK is willing to gamble. If he wins, then he has to strengthen the support.

MCA's history has shown that the party always becomes stronger after each crisis, as seen of the Neo Yee Pan-Tan Koon Swan saga in the 1980s and the succession plan deal between Ling Liong Sik and Lim Ah Lek in the early 2000s.

But still, it is best to remove both OTK and CSL and bring in a new president. No one knows if the factions can accept each other if OTK or CSL is president.
The best way is to get a third person to unite the party.
After the 1980s crisis, LLS took over the party mantle while a succession plan was struck in the LLS-LAL crisis, which saw both their protégés - DS Ong Ka Ting and TS Chan Kong Choy - taking over the party leadership.

The names that have been whispered around are that of vice-presidents DS Liow Tiong Lai and DS Ng Yen Yen. However, both may not be the best candidates, as LTL is still considered ‘green’ in leadership terms while with a woman at the helm, it may not go down well with the male-dominated MCA .

When the delegates cast their votes at the EGM comes Oct10, they must realise that MCA (the second-largest component party in BN and the largest Chinese party in the world outside of China) is fighting for its’ own survival and not just the political survival of two strong-headed warring personalities.

All said and done, MCA, which has been losing the Chinese votes, is unlikely to recover from the blows it received at the March 2008 GE and thereafter in time for the next GE. Another onslaught would spell the demise of the party. The central delegates must think hard on how to get the 60-year-old party back on track, to put party before self, before MCA is reduced to a footnote in history, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Salam Syawal

ATT00003

NutzeyWagen wishes all Muslims Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. May all of you be forever blessed with good health and peace of mind.

As for the rest of you, may you all enjoy the long weekend holidays safely. As for those who need to drive during this joyous festive season, drive safe, be safe, stay safe, and remember the 3As when on the road - ALERT, AWARE, ANTICIPATE. Last but not least, please remember that the most important part of a car is the nut that holds the steering-wheel, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Fernandes To Quit As Lotus F1 Boss

;">

Fernandes (left) will step down as Lotus team boss once the new season starts. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 18 — Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes plans to step down as head of the new Lotus Formula One team once the 2010 season has started.

“The team principal (position) is not something that is going to be permanent,” he told Reuters yesterday. “I am going to get it (the team) to a stage and then someone can do it full time, properly.

“My job is AirAsia and I just want to make sure that we (Lotus) have the right direction, the right imaging and the right future, the right strategic plan and marketing,” he added.

“I think up to about Melbourne, maybe,” he said when asked about the time frame. “Maybe I’ll enjoy being the team principal for a couple of races and I think then we’d move it on to someone else.”

Fernandes, the country’s 15th richest man according to Forbes Malaysia’s 2009 rich list, runs Asia’s largest budget airline by fleet size.

He was announced as the boss of Formula One’s newest team on Tuesday when Lotus F1 was granted the 13th slot.

The new team, to be based ultimately at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, will be a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of local entrepreneurs.

Fernandes said replacements were already being considered and his successor would likely not be a Malaysian.

“I would say probably we would buy in experience,” he added. “I think it would be good that the team principal is Malaysian but it might be a tall order to be a team principal straight away.”

The Malaysian government said on Tuesday the team’s two drivers would be announced at the end of October, with six local and international drivers in the frame so far.

Fernandes said Fairuz Fauzy, 26, who is currently racing in the World Series by Renault, would be a leading home-grown candidate.

“My personal preference would be to try to get someone with lots of experience, even though he may be ending his career, who can add a lot of experience and develop the car,” he added.

“Having the right personality that can transfer knowledge and enjoy working with people, I think is critical... there’s no point throwing someone in at the deep end if he’s not ready either.”

AirAsia are currently sponsors of Williams and Fernandes said that would continue next year.

Petronas has been a long-time backer of BMW-Sauber, whose place has been taken by Lotus, but that association could end.

“We are certainly campaigning for Petronas to come over to us,” said Fernandes. “We think it is logical as a Malaysian team that they should be somehow involved in it. But we’ll have to make our case.”

Fernandes said he expected a car to be ready by January to start testing in February.

He added he had been contacted by more than 1,000 Malaysians seeking a role within the team and saw it as an important step for the country.

The recent success of Force India, who have had two top four finishes in the last two races, had also been a boost.

“(Owner) Vijay (Mallya) going through all the criticism to be up there and ahead of McLaren shut up a lot of people,” said Fernandes. “It certainly helps my case in saying: ‘He did it, we can do it’.”

Having a team based at Sepang, rather than Europe, would not be a problem either, he added.

“At the end of the day it’s a wind tunnel, it’s computers, it’s a shed. It can be anywhere. It’s about who’s in the shed and the wind tunnel,” said Fernandes.

“I think we can attract the best talent from all over the world to come and live in Malaysia.”

The heritage and tradition of British-based Lotus, one of the great names from the sport’s past but with the car marque now owned by Malaysia’s Proton, would be respected however.

“(The late Lotus founder) Colin Chapman had a fantastic pedigree and we want to enhance it, protect what’s there and add value to it. Very much we see ourselves as the original Lotus and carrying on the processes,” he said. — Reuters

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

What the hell is going on? Already talking about quitting even before the new 2010 season gets going! So much for enthusiasm. As was pointed out here in an earlier post, managing a fleet of planes is absolutely different from managing an F1 team, and does Tony Fernandes have what it takes to be the team boss?

The question was answered by the man himself above. So why was he appointed the team boss in the first place? Speculations will be rife on this but excuses, not answers, will be given. So much for the 1Malaysia F1 / Lotus F1 or whatever it's called. Is this project destined to fail right from the word go? The word QUIT is now going around even before the team has taken flight (pun intended).

The question now is, will the team see the light of day, come rain or shine!? CIAO!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poll: Do you think the government should get involved in F1 team ownership?

Poll: Do you think the government should get involved in F1 team ownership?

Click on the above link to make your vote count, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Renault F1's Crashgate

I quit to save Renault: Briatore (sourced from: The Malaysian Insider)

The flamboyant Briatore will leave Formula One with his reputation in tatters. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 17 — Flavio Briatore said he sacrificed himself to save his Renault Formula One team but it will take more than the departure of a flamboyant Italian showman to repair the damage done by race-fixing revelations.

“The worst act of cheating in the history of sport,” declared the back page headline in the Times newspaper today.

“I was just trying to save the team,” Briatore said after Renault announced he and engineering head Pat Symonds had left the team after allegations they fixed last year’s Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash.

“It’s my duty. That’s the reason I’ve finished,” he told British newspapers, whose commentators emphasised the potentially lethal nature of such a crash and portrayed a diseased sport lacking in moral perspective.

Austria’s triple champion Niki Lauda, who almost died in a fiery 1976 crash at the Nuerburgring, said the scandal marked a new low and the governing FIA needed to take a tough stance.

“The McLaren spying scandal two years ago was extremely serious but mechanics have always discussed technical data among themselves,” he told the Daily Mail, referring to a controversy that cost McLaren a record US$100 million (RM350 million) fine.

“This, though, is new. The biggest damage ever. Now the FIA must punish Renault heavily to restore credibility in the sport.”

Britain’s Jackie Stewart, another triple champion, agreed.

“There is something fundamentally rotten and wrong at the heart of Formula One,” he told The Sun.

“Never in my experience has Formula One been in such a mood of self-destruction. Millions of fans are amazed, if not disgusted, at a sport which now goes from crisis to crisis with everyone blaming everyone else.”

Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, a co-owner with Briatore of English first division soccer club Queens Park Rangers, refused to stand up for a man who had been seen by some as his eventual successor.

“It is a pity that Flavio has ended his Formula One career in this way,” the 78-year-old told the Daily Mirror. “You can’t defend him at all. What he did was completely unnecessary. It’s a pity that its happened.”

Ecclestone still could not resist making light of Briatore’s predicament, suggesting he would now have more time to pick QPR’s team, and said the sport that he has built into a billion dollar business would not suffer.

“He (Briatore) told me recently that he didn’t want to finish up like me, playing with racing cars at my age. So at least he’s been saved that embarrassment,” he said.

“It (the sport) has recovered from so many things when people have said it was finished and it will recover from this. It was supposed to be finished when Ayrton Senna died. It was supposed to be finished when Michael Schumacher retired.

“People say it’s been a torrid year but it always is in F1. There’s always something going on. It’s never peaceful.” — Reuters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FIA may kick Renault out of F1 permanently (sourced from: The Malaysian Insider)

Renault face a permanent expulsion from Formula One, or at least an astronomical fine. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 17 — After deciding not to contest charges of fixing last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, Renault must wait for Formula One’s governing body to decide their punishment.

The main question now is whether, with flamboyant team boss Flavio Briatore falling on his sword, Renault have done enough to escape the ultimate sanction of being kicked out of the championship.

Another concern is whether, given all the negative publicity over ordering Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash his car to help team mate Fernando Alonso win, the French manufacturer will remain committed to the sport even if allowed to continue racing.

“Out. Total. Exclusion forever, gone, finished. That’s the worst that could happen,” International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley said last week when asked what was the toughest possible penalty.

That is no idle threat. Toyota were excluded for a year from the world rally championship in 1995 for using an illegal turbocharger.

The departure of Briatore and his unflappable director of engineering Pat Symonds may act in Renault’s favour however. Precedents suggest being honest and apologising unreservedly will also help.

Mosley has said the Renault cause is potentially more serious than that of McLaren, who were fined US$100 million (RM350 million) and stripped of all their constructors’ points in 2007 for having Ferrari technical data in their possession.

However, the FIA came down particularly hard on McLaren because it felt the team had not been honest.


PUBLIC APOLOGY

“One of the bad things about McLaren was that they did not tell the truth, so that went against them,” Mosley said.

McLaren took a very different tack in April when they were again hauled in front of the FIA on charges of lying to stewards at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

McLaren’s British world champion Lewis Hamilton made a public apology, team principal Martin Whitmarsh doing so unreservedly in front of the FIA members. Sporting director Dave Ryan was dismissed and former team boss Ron Dennis distanced.

The FIA highlighted the “open and honest” approach and dealt the team a suspended three-race ban.

The argument that 600 to 700 innocent Renault employees risk losing their jobs because of the actions of individuals who have since left the company will also have weight.

“If we’d excluded McLaren from 2007 and 2008, the business was finished. Shut down, 1,400 people lose their jobs. There’s no way they could have survived that,” said Mosley.

“And so the truth of the matter was that the 100 million... was actually a very light penalty.”

Counting against Renault will be safety issues, with Piquet not only risking his own life and limb but also that of spectators, marshals and even other drivers.


SINGLE POINT

The result of the 2008 championship cannot be changed but the fact the crash may have cost Piquet’s Ferrari-driving compatriot Felipe Massa the title could also be taken into consideration.

Massa, who lost out to Hamilton by a single point, had been leading in Singapore before Piquet’s crash brought out the safety car. He failed to score points after a nightmare pit stop.

The FIA also have to show they are not biased, even if a heavy fine could prompt Renault to follow Honda and BMW out of the sport.

“If we just said we would ignore it then the whole world would turn around and say Formula One is not a sport, it’s a business,” said Mosley.

“(People would say) ‘Because this is a big car company they’re not going to do anything’; ‘Because (Formula One supremo) Bernie (Ecclestone) is friends with Flavio and they’ve got a football club, they’re not going to do anything.’

“The world would see us as corrupt.” — Reuters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

What's been done cannot be undone anymore. Briatore and Symonds' decision to quit the team is tantamount to admitting to the charge of race-fixing. They quit because they know they have nothing to fall back on and having no defense to the charge. Their only mistake in this ugly episode was sacking their driver Nelson Piquet Jr. who subsequently pulled the plug on them about the conspiracy to stage an intentional crash into the barriers to effect a safety car deployment during last season's inaugural Singapore F1 race. Nelson Piquet Jr's then team-mate, Fernando Alonso, went on to win the race.

It is now left to be seen what the governing body, FIA, will mete out as punishment to the Renault F1 team. Worse comes to worst, Renault could be kicked out from F1 for good or banned for a period of time, but considering some of the arguments above, they might yet get to stay and race another day, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Who's To Gain From This?

Briatore, Symonds quit Renault F1 (source: The Malaysian Insider)

Renault F1 today released a statement saying team boss Briatore has quit the team. — Reuters pic

PARIS, Sept 16 — Renault F1’s team boss Flavio Briatore and the head of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the Formula One outfit according to a statement released today.

Renault F1 have been embroiled in a race fixing controversy in recent weeks, after sacked driver Nelson Piquet Jr alleged that the team had instructed him to intentionally crash into a wall during the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix to create a safety car incident.

Other teams also agree the deployment of the safety car was advantageous to Piquet’s then-teammate Fernando Alonso’s race. Alonso went on to win the grand prix.

Renault today also said it would no longer contest the race-fixing charges. — Reuters


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

A great loss to F1. They are among an elite few who possess great racing brains! Let's wait and see how Dato' Tony Fernandes measure up to the rest that are still there in 2010! Managing a fleet of planes is absolutely different from managing an F1 team, come rain or shine! CIAO!

F1 Wannabe

Allure of F1 undimmed in Asia (source: Malaysian Insider)

A new design, manufacturing and technical centre will be built at the Sepang International Circuit. —Reuters pic

LONDON, Sept 16 — The allure of Formula One remains undimmed for Middle Eastern and Asian investors as the sport shifted further away from its European origins yesterday with the rebirth of Lotus as a Malaysian-owned team.

Leading Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes will be team principal after Lotus were awarded the 13th slot on the 2010 starting grid by the governing International Automobile Federation.

A new design, manufacturing and technical centre will be built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

“The cars will be made in Malaysia, by Malaysians,” the government said in a statement.

BMW-Sauber, who were left fighting for their survival after German manufacturer BMW announced in July that it was pulling out at the end of the season, hope to be racing against them after being rescued by Middle Eastern money.

BMW said Qadbak Investments, a Swiss-based foundation representing unnamed Middle Eastern interests, had signed a contract to buy the team.

Although Lotus have taken the slot that was BMW-Sauber’s, the latter team were given a reserve 14th place with the FIA also looking into a regulation change to allow the grid to stretch to 14 teams and 28 cars.

The Middle East already has two races for the first time this year, with the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix joining Bahrain on the calendar, while France has disappeared from the calendar.

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment fund owns a five per cent stake in Ferrari while Bahrain’s state holding company Mumtalakat has 30 per cent of McLaren.

A further 15 per cent of McLaren is in the hands of Saudi businessman Mansour Ojjeh.

The Gulf’s financial involvement could grow even further if media reports in Germany are correct about Mercedes seeking a 75 per cent stake in championship leaders Brawn.

German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport reported last week that Aabar, a major investor in Mercedes’ parent company Daimler, would hold the stake until the car maker’s exclusive contract with McLaren expires in 2011.

Malaysia and Singapore are now established fixtures while South Korea is aiming for a slot in 2010 before India makes its debut in 2011.

Indian aviation and liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya has already put the country more firmly on the motorsport map with his Force India team taking pole position in Belgium last month and grabbing two top four positions in two races.

Force India were formally Jordan, Midland and Spyker and remain based at Britain’s Silverstone circuit.

Britain and its “Motorsport Valley” has long been the home of choice to a majority of teams but the numbers are levelling out. Newcomers due to debut next season promise to take the sport out of its familiar surroundings.

USF1 have decided to base themselves in Charlotte, North Carolina which means that the championship that started in Europe 59 years ago with teams from just Italy and France could soon see cars being produced on three continents. — Reuters

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Malaysian F1 team plans grand HQ (source: Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 – Sepang International Circuit (SIC), a joint partnership involving the government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs for the 1Malaysia Formula (F1) One Team project, has allocated between 8,000 and 12,000 hectares for the development of the Made-in-Malaysia F1 team headquarters.

SIC chief executive officer (CEO) Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali told Bernama the headquarters, to be located at the circuit, would be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including a wind-tunnel, to test the aerodynamics of the Malaysian-made machines.

He said the headquarters, comprising an office, research & development (R&D), manufacturing, technical centre and other related departments, would be fully functional, two years after the preliminary works expected to begin by the middle of next year.

“SIC have chosen a suitable site for the team headquarters which will be located at the parking area before the tunnel, to enter the podium building.

“But it’s all in the preliminary stages. All the parties involved will have to sit together after the Hari Raya and submit whatever plans we have to the motorsports governing body, the Federation of International Automobile (FIA) for endorsement,” he told Bernama here today.

Ahmad Razlan admitted the cost to build the team headquarters at SIC would involve millions or maybe even billions of ringgit but could not reveal the actual cost because it was “still in the preliminary phase”.

SIC would only build the physical infrastructure but the hardware and software of the projects would be decided by other parties, he said.

Ahmad Razlan said cooperation between SIC and AirAsia began a few months ago when Asia’s low-budget airlines boss Datuk Tony Fernandes told him about his ambitious dream to set up an all-Malaysian F1 team.

For SIC, the idea will not only enhance the level of the company’s involvement in the motorsports industry but also show Malaysia’s direct involvement with F1.

“This is a new chapter for SIC ... as organiser of Malaysian F1 race to the niche Home of Motorsports and now, we can boast that we’re the hub for motorsports in Asia,” said Ahmad Rzalan.

Asked if the Malaysian-made machines would be on the grid before the Australian Grand Prix in March next year – the first round of the 2010 F1 calendar – he said the cars would be in Malaysia before the race.

“I can assure all Malaysian that the 1Malaysia F1 Team machines will be in this country before the Australian race, most probably for testing at the 5.543km Sepang Circuit.

“We’re not building the car from scratch. We already have the Lotus technology for the engines and within three month, the car is fit to be on the road. The Malaysian car has enough time to make a pinnacle for the motorsports industry. That, I can assure them,” he said.

He said the team’s technical director Mike Gascoyne had over 20 years experience in F1, and previously performed the same role for the Force India, Toyota, Renault and Jordan Formula One Teams.

Meanwhile, National Sports Institute director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Abd Aziz said the institute was willing to share its expertise with the budding F1 drivers.

He said former national F1 driver Alex Yoong used to undergo physical training under the institute’s supervision as F1 drivers needed to be physically and mentally ready.

“If necessary, we will set up a team comprising experts to help in the training.

“However, before we provide any assistance, we must get the green light from the youth and sports ministry,” added Dr Ramlan. – Bernama

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

Will all these be another white elephant project where millions or even billions of tax-payers' RMs going down the drain? Petronas spent about 50mil pounds (approx. RM290mil) a season sponsoring the soon-to-be dissolved BMW-Sauber F1 team (the team will not be participating in the 2010 season), and that is just as a sponsor having its name and logo pasted on the cars.

So how much would it actually cost Malaysia to build a grand F1 HQ in Sepang, and to run and upkeep an F1 team? Millions? Billions? And where will all these lead to? How long can the team be sustained? 1Malaysia? (suck) People First, (no) Performance Later? In Bolehland, it's Malaysia Boleh, come rain or shine! CIAO!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

1Malaysia F1 Via Lotus?


A model of the new 1 Malaysia team car unveiled today in Putrajaya. - Reuters pic

UPDATED (The Malaysian Insider)

LONDON, Sept 15 — Formula One’s governing body today named Lotus as the 13th team for the 2010 championship. The new outfit will be led by Tony Fernandes of Malaysia, it was announced here.

In Kuala Lumpur, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also confirmed the news and said the team will be known as the 1 Malaysia Formula One team, although Reuters quotes the FIA as calling the new outfit the Lotus F1 team.

According to Reuters, the new team is a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs.

The FIA said the team principal will be leading Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes. The 45-year-old set up Asian budget airline Air Asia and, with a net worth of US$220 million (RM770.57 million), is Malaysia’s 15th richest man, according to Forbes Malaysia 2009 rich list.

Investors in the new team are Air Asia co-founders Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Fernandes as well as SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin of Naza.

Technical director Mike Gascoyne has more than 20 years of experience in Formula One having previously performed the same role for the Force India, Toyota, Renault and Jordan Formula One teams.

As part of its application to compete in the 2010 championship, the Lotus team agreed an engine supply deal with Cosworth.

The team will initially be based in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the Lotus Cars factory in Eastern England.

The team’s future design, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit, the FIA statement said.

1Malaysia is Najib’s platform for uniting Malaysians irrespective of ethnicity and creating a performance based culture.

The concept has gotten mixed reviews as some have praised its objectives while others have criticised its vagueness, which Najib says is deliberate.

The Malaysian government has gone on overdrive to promote 1Malaysia via billboards and song competitions.

Najib declined to disclose the amount that the public-private initiative will cost.

He added however that the government’s investment will be via proton.

Lotus, one of the most successful and glorious names from Formula One’s past, will return next year replacing BMW-Sauber as the 13th entry on the starting grid.

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that, after due diligence and an intensive selection process, it had chosen Lotus.

“The cars will be made in Malaysia, by Malaysians,” the Malaysian government said in a separate statement.

The vacancy arose after BMW announced that they were withdrawing at the end of the season, following a path already trodden by Japan’s Honda.

The FIA said BMW-Sauber, who are still seeking a buyer, had been given a reserve slot to fill any vacancy that might occur between now and the start of the 2010 championship.

“The team will announce its two drivers by October 31, 2009. Currently six local and international drivers have been selected,” the Malaysian government said.

Three teams had been on the FIA shortlist for the 13th slot: Lotus, a BMW-Sauber entry to be renamed under eventual new ownership and Spain’s Epsilon Euskadi.

The original Lotus won seven Formula One constructors’ titles and six drivers’ crowns between 1963 and 1978 under the inspirational leadership of the late Colin Chapman, one of the most innovative engineers in the sport.

Chapman died of a heart attack in 1982 and the company slid into administration in 1994 after giving the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna his first victory in 1985.

British great Jim Clark spent his entire F1 career with Lotus, winning two titles. The team’s other champions include compatriot Graham Hill, Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi and American Mario Andretti.

In 1970 the team’s Austrian driver Jochen Rindt became the sport’s only posthumous champion.

The right to the Lotus F1 name was acquired by David Hunt, brother of the 1976 champion James, while the British-based car company was bought by Malaysian state-owned Proton.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By Admin:

Hopefully this foray into F1 won't turn into another failure like the first when Malaysia put the first Malaysian driver in F1. Whether this venture fails or succeeds is left to be seen, come rain or shine! CIAO!