Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Leading Malaysian entrepreneur Dato Tony Fernandes will be Lotus team principal, to be known as the 1 Malaysia F1 Team.

The 45-year-old set up Asian budget airline Air Asia, currently sponsoring the Williams team, and is Malaysia's 15th richest man with a net worth of $220 million according to Forbes Malaysia 2009 rich list.

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

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

The new outfit will be called Lotus F1 Team and is a partnership between the Malaysian government and a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs.

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

The Technical director is said to be Mike Gascoyne was previously with Force India, their predecessors Jordan, Toyota and Renault.

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

Lotus will initially be based in Norfolk, some 10 miles from the original Lotus Cars factory in Eastern England, but the future design, manufacturing and technical centre will be purpose built at Malaysia's Sepang International Circuit.

"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 Malaysiam state-owned Proton.


Remember the Lotus F1 Team entry that tried to make it into next year’s Formula 1 gird? Well, we have news that the FIA has given the green light to the entry, since there is a vacant spot as BMW announced its departure. However, the team will carry a different name: 1Malaysia F1 Team, since the team will be backed by the Malaysian Government and a group of Malaysian investors. For the record, Lotus is owned by Malaysian auto maker, Proton. However, some reports indicate that the team will be called Lotus F1 Team.

The team will be based in Norfolk, England (located about 10 miles away Lotus’ headquarters), and will be headed by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian businessman who is behind Air Asia and the Malaysian Tune Group. The latter will also be funding the team. Formerly with Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Force India, Mike Gascoyne will be the new team’s Technical Director. As expected, the new team, along with Manor, USGPE and Campos, will be powered by Cosworth. According to the FIA, the team’s future design, R&D, manufacturing and technical centre will be built at Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit.

The team will also feature Xtrac transmissions and will have the aerodynamics developed by a company called FondTech. With all that, one wonders what actually are Lotus’ responsibilities within the new team? Lotus’ last outing in Formula 1 was back in 1994.

In another development, the FIA is currently negotiating with all the current teams is Formula 1, to allow a fourteenth team to join the line-up next year. The extra spot will be made available to the new owners of the BMW Sauber team, provided it is successfully sold in time.