11 February 2010
PETALING JAYA: The first Lotus F1 car went on track for the first time in 16 years in a private shakedown at the Silverstone circuit late on Tuesday ahead of its official launch in London tomorrow.
It was the Malaysian reserve driver of the team, Fairuz Fauzy, who had the honour of taking the team’s challenger for the 2010 season around the circuit, which coincidentally is not far from his residence.
The car was decked in the green and yellow liveries in tribute to the proud heritage of Lotus in the early years of F1 with the Proton logo in prominent display.
But chief executive officer Riad Asmat did not give further hints on whether the colours will remain unchanged for the season, except to add that all went well according to plan.
The Lotus outfit, backed by AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, will officially unveil their car to the world at the Royal Horticultural Hall tomorrow.
“Fairuz took the car out for a couple of laps. The shakedown was to test more effectively that everything in the car works properly before we go for actual testing later,” said Riad, who has arrived in London ahead of the launch.
“Everything went well for us and it was certainly a proud moment for everyone here to see the car up and running as we’ve built it up from scratch in less than six months.
“We have also invited all the employees of the Lotus factory here to be with us for the launch on Friday afternoon.”
Team principal Fernandes said in his Twitter post that he was overwhelmed by the occasion and shed quite a few tears.
Lotus, who were a force in F1 in the 50s and 60s, last raced in Australia in 1994.
However, they were revived after the 1Malaysia F1 company set up by the major stakeholders in AirAsia were granted a licence by FIA on Sept 15 last year to race in the 2010 season.
Fairuz together with the team’s main drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, will join the majority of the F1 field at the third official four-day test session in Jerez, Spain, next week.
Lotus are one of the four new teams for the 2010 season. The others are Virgin Racing, Campos Meta and USF1 Racing.
By Lim Teik Huat