Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has praised CEO Riad Asmat as a 'raw diamond being polished into a sparkling gem' after taking up his role with the F1 newcomers last year.
Asmat left his position with Proton to become CEO following the successful application for an F1 entry and will now also become team principal of the Team Air Asia entry into the 2010 GP2 Series.
With the team currently embroiled in battle with Group Lotus over the use of the Lotus name, Fernandes took time to reflect on activities away from the track in his personal blog and said the development of Asmat in his new role had been one of his highlights of 2010.
“In all this Lotus mess, one of the highlights of has been the development of Riad Asmat, our CEO at Team Lotus,” he said. “I met Riad when I went to meet the CEO of Proton, Syed. Riad made such an impact on me that within five minutes, I said to him: why are you wasting your time here, come work for us.
“He was then special assistant to the CEO. But in my mind, I figured Riad was way smarter. No ego. No hangups. Decisive. And a young man who believed in doing real work rather than what others thought about him. Made rational decisions and had a great persona about him. Very honest and smart but terribly under utilised at Proton.
“Riad was the raw diamond that I love polishing into a sparking gem.
"In the last year, he has proved himself many times over. He has shown that he can go from being just a glorified secretary to sitting in the same room as the bosses of Ferrari, McClaren, Red Bull and Williams. Not just holding his own in such company, but contributing to the discussions and resolution of issues. This coming year, I expect him to really come into his own and dazzle all as he moves from Malaysia to Lotus headquarters in Norfolk, England.
"It's a lesson to all: There's tremendous talent in all your organisations. Identify it. Provide the opportunities. Use it. And watch them take flight.”