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Lotus boss denies GE deal has link to F1


New Lotus F1 chief executive Tony Fernandes has denied that a $500,000 a year sponsorship deal he has brokered for the new Asian Basketball League will lead to the company backing his grand prix outfit.

The three-year deal has secured the future of the nascent league after helping to bring its total backing to the required $3m, but any link between the backing and Fernandes' F1 venture is being discounted by the man himself.

"I have not talked to GE about F1 and I don't think we will," he told the SportsPro Daily Deal newsletter, "GE was the one who believed in us and took a leap of faith when we started AirAsia and no banker would even serve us coffee."

The Air Asia chief executive has already stated that his airline will continue to back Williams rather than switching allegiance to Lotus, but the rumour mill continues to claim that the 'newcomer' will bid to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the current BMW Sauber team to tempt Malaysian giant Petronas on board.

"We are certainly campaigning for Petronas to come over to us," he confirmed earlier this week, "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."

No contract extension was signed with BMW Sauber when the German manufacturer announced it was pulling out of F1 at the end of the season, and with new owners Qadbak Investments sweating on a 14th entry being accepted to the grid for 2010 - or another team withdrawing - there is no guarantee that Petronas will have a team to support, despite its long-standing relationship with potential team principal Peter Sauber.



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Lotus logo [Pic credit: Group Lotus plc]
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