The CEO of F1 2010 newcomer Lotus has called for the team to be given 'a bit more credit' and has brushed off accusations of insufficient funding – as the Anglo/Malaysian-run outfit prepares to take the wraps off its maiden grand prix challenger later this week.
For some time, there has been rabid speculation that fellow 2010 new boys USF1 and Campos Meta 1 are struggling on the budget front and as a consequence may not make the starting grid for the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir five-and-a-half weeks away. Now, similar fears are beginning to be expressed in some quarters – particularly in Malaysia, it would seem – about Lotus.
Unjustified and unfounded fears, Riad Asmat assures, ahead of the car's official launch at the Royal Horticultural Hall in London on Friday (12 February). That will come after test driver Fairuz Fauzy gives the machine its shakedown run at Silverstone today (Tuesday), and before the Norfolk-based concern heads off to Jerez in southern Spain next week where race drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will put it more arduously through its paces in the third pre-season F1 group test.
However, with no major sponsorship announcements to-date and no backing from the Malaysian government – despite Lotus' close links with both car maker Proton and the Sepang International Circuit, home to the annual Malaysian Grand Prix – as well as a failed bid to secure the support of state-owned oil company Petronas, which ultimately pledged its colours to the Mercedes mast instead, questions are now being asked. And, Asmat contends, will soon be answered.
“I think we're due a little bit more credit,” he told Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times
. “So far, of the new teams only Virgin and us have our cars ready and we will be on the grid in Bahrain. This is no mock-up car. It is a running car with an engine in it that has been a result of about 100 days of hard work. We are fighting for every single detail there is.
“People can speculate that Campos might not start the season, that we won't make it through the season or anything they want. At the end of the day, it is up to our determination to make things happen. This is Malaysia and I've learned to accept this, that people are eager to draw the negative out of everything – but they should see what we have done and all will be unveiled on Friday.”