F1 »

Fernandes: Lotus F1 goals 'humble' – but giant-killing the long-term aim

Tony Fernandes tells Crash.net that for all his pre-season banter with fellow airline boss and Virgin Racing figurehead Richard Branson, Lotus F1 is deadly serious about long-term success in the top flight
As the man who joked he would have to retire and kill himself – and accepted a bet to dress and serve as a stewardess for a day on Virgin Atlantic should his team trail in behind that of his fellow airline boss Richard Branson's in 2010 – it might be easy to mistake Lotus F1 founder Tony Fernandes for a man not taking his new role as a grand prix team principal seriously, but that would be a grave mistake to make indeed.

Little known in F1 circles until the last few months, Fernandes has nevertheless established a leading name for himself in the Far East, as the brains behind no-frills Malaysian airline AirAsia, which the government had failed to make work out of as a commercial cause, but which over the course of the last eight years, he has transformed into the world's most prominent and lucrative budget carrier.

Whilst Lotus – like Virgin – will undoubtedly inject a welcome element of fun into the top flight, it is clear that such success as Fernandes has achieved in the aviation sector did not come about by a frivolous attitude, and the 45-year-old entrepreneur is now preparing to adopt the same approach to his new project.

“When you spend the kind of money we've spent, we're not here to come last every year!” he joked, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. “We are serious. We obviously know we're going to struggle in the first year or so, but we are here to build a serious team and a team that hopefully fans of Lotus can be proud of so that we can live up to the great heritage that we are kind of associated with.

“I think I put my intentions very clearly when we signed two paid drivers, and two good drivers – Jarno [Trulli] and Heikki [Kovalainen] can hold their position in any team and do a good job. That is an accomplishment in itself, because no-one is going to walk into a team if they think it's a Mickey Mouse team. They did their own diligence, and the fact is that we actually had two other grand prix drivers who wanted to drive for us.

“That shows two things – one, I think they liked what was behind the commercial side of the business, and two, they saw the seriousness of what Mike [Gascoyne – technical director] and his team were doing. I am proud of that, and hopefully Mike can give them a car that will do them justice as well.”

Indeed, the driving line-up at Lotus in F1 2010 is inarguably the best of the four newcomers – with Trulli and Kovalainen former grand prix-winners both – and arguably better than some of the pre-existing teams to-boot. The duo's combined speed and experience will doubtless aid greatly in helping the Anglo-Malaysian outfit to climb the steep learning slope that lies ahead of it, and drive the team forwards in years to come to appropriately honour such a great history and name.

With F1's reputation as the pinnacle of international motor racing having suffered from far too many new entrants joining and then folding again within only a matter of seasons over the past couple of decades – Lola, Forti Corse, Pacific and BMS Scuderia Italia spring most prominently to mind – Fernandes insists that Lotus' intentions are far more long-term, adding that the sport's new low-cost era will play a vital role in that longevity.

“Obviously, I've kept the goals pretty humble,” he acknowledged. “My first, initial goal is to finish all the races, and another goal would be to be the best of the new teams. The definition of 'new' is interesting as well, and if we can beat Sauber I think that would be fantastic, because they've got a lot of years of experience behind them.

by Russell Atkins


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
[L-R]: Heikki Kovalainen, Tony Fernandes, Jarno Trulli and Fairuz Fauzy, Lotus F1 [pic credit: Lotus F1 Racing]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Daniel Ricciardo tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and 3rd place Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H
27.11.2016 - Race, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.


Justin

February 13, 2010 1:29 AM

When you think about it, what relation does McLaren have now to Bruce McLaren other than the name? History, yes. But not much more. Really it is the same story as Lotus, just that McLaren have not been missing from the grid for the last few years. The name has been bought back by a group of investors or whatever, the McLaren name has been continued by a similar group of people. If it's not the real 'Lotus' then I guess it's not the real 'McLaren' either. Teams like Williams and Ferarri would be the only thing close to being true to their name. I don't understand the criticism, we should be happy that a historic and previously sucessful marque has returned, regardless of it's owners.



© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.