Tony Fernandes is confident that the 'second generation' Lotus F1 team will be a success - and while he doesn't expect 2010 to be easy, he reckons the Lotus brand has the potential to really re-capture the imagination of F1 fans worldwide.

Lotus will be one of four new entries on the starting grid next year - alongside Virgin Racing (formerly Manor Grand Prix), USF1 and Campos Meta 1 - and Fernandes is excited about the prospects for the sport.

Indeed despite the loss of BMW and Toyota in recent months, he added that F1 will continue to prosper.

"Number one (the decision to enter F1 is because), it's a business. It's an opportunity. When there is a change, a big change in the business, entrepreneurs such as myself will seize an opportunity," he explained to "I started an airline three days after 9/11. Many people thought I was on some very good drugs when I did that. I think many people are now saying the same thing.

"But we entrepreneurs, we smell opportunities. And F1 is not going to change whether BMW is there or not (or Toyota or Honda etc, etc). Ferrari is still a great manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz has come in and it has a great name.

"But even if there were no manufacturers, I'd still think that F1 is there, because fundamentally do people come to watch BMW or Toyota? They come to watch the races, the drivers, the whole atmosphere, and to support teams. I don't think the manufacturers will make such a big difference, they come and go.

"I smell an opportunity and I think Lotus is a fantastic brand. Take Ferrari aside, there is probably no team that has that kind of emotion. BMW, Toyota and Renault don't create that same emotion as Lotus. And that's what we are trying to bring back into the sport and capitalise on.

"I've been well trained. In the music business I had to deal with wonderful artists and it was high pressure to bring a new one into a very competitive world. I had high pressure starting an airline, to justify the business model. So the pressure is something that is reflected in my grey hair. We deal with it. But, yeah, I mean, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

"I think it's also good, and I go back to the opportunity, that we have a much better advantage now, because the teams are more even, we have to build a new car, with a larger fuel tank. It is a good time to come in and to try and make Lotus competitive. We are not going to be competitive next year. Maybe, who knows, but I don't think so. But it's a good basis to start on. Lotus left at the bottom, so there is only one way for us. Either stay at the bottom or go up."

Currently Fernandes' outfit, known in Malaysia as '1Malaysia F1 Team', uses the 'Lotus F1 Racing' name under license by Proton, which acquired the British sportscar firm in the early 1990s.

However, Fernandes thinks Group Lotus will eventually buy into his F1 team, reiterating what he said last month at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco.

"It's complicated, but basically the car company is Group Lotus, which is owned by Proton, a Malaysian company. We are the racing team, Lotus F1 Racing. And Classic Lotus is the history of Lotus. There are obviously some other rights-holders etcetera. What we are trying to do for the benefit of everyone else is trying to put everything together.

"Obviously we have a very close relationship with Group Lotus, through the Malaysian part of it, we've had a fantastic relationship with Clive and Hazel Chapman of Classic Lotus. Hopefully one day we'll all be together - or closely aligned to each other.

"We are building a car from scratch. I think that will develop in time and we'll start having more and more collaboration with Group Lotus. I mean, there is a model which works, called Ferrari.

"So I think it makes complete sense that we are completely aligned. We welcome it, we want it to happen. Everything is happening very fast: September is only a few months ago. It will happen. I'm very sure."