10 December 2009
THE head of the new Lotus team has quickly discovered what it is like to be in the snake-pit of Formula One politics.
Tony Fernandes, the Air Asia tycoon who was once a record company executive, said: "I thought I'd seen it all in the airline and music business but it's another level here.
"Everyone shakes your hand and smiles - and a knife goes in your back as you walk out."
But the Malaysian pioneer remains undaunted and believes Lotus will be a key part of a "more exciting" Formula One in 2010.
The team hope to announce their drivers in the next week, with ex-Toyota ace Jarno Trulli high on their shopping list, as predicted by SunSport.
Fernandes admitted the veteran Italian was among four contenders who also include Malaysia's top driver Fairuz Fauzy.
But former world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who has been talking about a possible comeback, is not in the frame.
Lotus, who insist they are essentially a Malaysian outfit even though they have taken the name of the legendary F1 team from Norfolk, are aiming to be the best of the four new teams who will join the grid next season.
And Fernandes is particularly desperate to beat the Virgin squad backed by his former boss Sir Richard Branson, now also a rival in the airline business.
Fernandes said: "I said that No1, we have to be ahead of Branson. Otherwise I will retire and kill myself."