18 March 2010
PETALING JAYA: It will be the real deal as far as Lotus Racing are concerned when they make their eagerly awaited stopover at the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix in Sepang next month.
Lotus Racing plan to do a promotional event at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur on March 30 to help hype up the third round of the F1 world championships scheduled for that weekend and Malaysians will get to check out the actual race car.
The team were officially launched in London on Feb 12 but Malaysians back home have not seen the car up close.
Team principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes said that they were planning to do a promotional event when the cars arrive here at the end of the month after the Australian GP, which will be held in Melbourne from March 26-28.
“Since we do not have a show car, we will put one up on the other teams as you are going to see the real car,” said Tony.
“It will be the car that will be racing in Sepang. Other teams will bring show cars but ours is going to be the real thing.”
Tony, who is also the chief executive officer of Air Asia, added that the Malaysian GP from April 2-4 was very important to them.
“It’s our homecoming race. We have not had the chance to bring the car home to Malaysia yet as we only have two chassis and no show car,” he said.
“The Malaysian race is the most important in the season for us. We want the whole of Malaysia to see the car and feel part of it.”
The six-month-old team had a wonderful outing in their historic first F1 race in Bahrain last Sunday when both cars managed to get classification in the 49-lap race.
Heikki Kovalainen finished 15th while team-mate Jarno Trulli was classified 17th even though a hydraulic problem forced the Italian to pull over on his final lap.
Kovalainen and Trulli are expected to fly in early for the promotional event together along with Fairuz Fauzy, who is expected to be given the chance to drive on the Friday morning practice in Sepang.
Tony added that he was using Tune Group instead of the Air Asia branding on the car because the latter was already well-established.
“We already have a contract with Williams F1. I don’t think AirAsia will be on a Lotus car anyway. AirAsia has reached a certain level but Tune Group is now up-and-coming,” he said.
“Tune Hotels.com is opening 15 hotels in London. Tune Money and Tune Talk are also growing rapidly.”
Tony said that sponsorship negotiations were an ongoing process. Lotus recently announced a sponsorship deal with CNN International.
By Lim Teik Huat