16 September 2009
PETALING JAYA : Malaysia’s foray into the expensive world of Formula One with its 1Malaysia F1 team is expected to cost nothing less than a billion ringgit, industry sources say.
theSun learnt that budgetary concerns pose the biggest challenge in getting the 1Malaysia F1 team off the starting grid in next year’s Formula One race.
The cost of putting an F1 team together from scratch is considerable, with teams spending between US$45.6 million (RM158.7 million) and US$445.6 million (RM1.55 billion) per year on F1 races.
The expenses will involve setting up the infrastructure, where a large portion of the budget will go towards operational expenditures such as employing staff, drivers’ and test driver’s salaries, engines, tyres, fuel, travel, freight, testing, equipment and food. There is also R&D and engine costs to consider.
Malaysia is also planning to build its F1 team headquarters – at a cost of millions or even billions of ringgit – which will be located at the Sepang International Circuit, and comprise an office, R& D facility, technical centre and a wind tunnel.
All parties involved will come together for a meeting after Hari Raya to discuss the financial aspects of running the F1 team.
A public-private partnership company, 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd, will work with regulating bodies such as Sepang International Circuit (SIC), Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM) and Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) on all technical aspects of managing the team.
A spokesman for 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd said they will hold a press conference after the festivities to announce the names of the stakeholders, and also the initial budget needed to run the F1 team.
A consortium of other joint venture partners, that include companies such as Proton, AirAsia Bhd and Naza Group, will also be actively involved in the F1 team, but the financial details of their involvement have yet to be determined.
AirAsia’s deputy CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranum was quoted by AFP as saying that the F1 team is looking for investors.
He, however, declined to reveal how much it will cost Malaysia to participate in the F1 races.
AirAsia’s CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes will be the team’s principal and act as the spokesman for the local team, besides liaising with the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
An official from Naza said the group’s involvement and how much it will spend on the F1 team will be announced in due time.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who is also finance minister, announced the formation of the 1Malaysia Formula 1 Team which, he said, was a government and private sector initiative.
He also said that the team will be based at the SIC and the cars will be designed, manufactured and tested there.
Najib said the funding for the venture will come from the public and private sectors, with the government’s investment being channelled through national car maker Proton.He stressed that the project would not be a waste of money as it would boost the country’s image internationally and be a marketing platform for Malaysia, Proton, Lotus, AirAsia and Naza.