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!

1 comment:

  1. Bro, you have done ur research...KickingDust