Saturday, September 26, 2009


It seems we were wrong about the government wasting our money on an F1 team in next years' championship. Or are we? A news report, and this was published in Singapore not in Malaysia (I can't seem to find anything reported in the Malaysian press except by Paul Tan), says that the Malaysian government will not be funding the team. The arrangement is as follows:

The Malaysian Government has no equity directly or indirectly in the team, and the team will be funded by a group of companies including Litespeed (which submitted an application to join Formula 1 next year under the name Team Lotus), Naza, and the Tune Group, run by Tony Fernandes, current team principal. Petronas, a very familiar name in Formula 1 (BMW Sauber’s sponsor), is expected to join the team via its Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (a Petronas university in Malaysia), which will collaborate with the team together with UTM (University Teknologi Malaysia – a state owned university) to help develop future Malaysian engineers.

A company called Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) will also be involved in the team. The Malaysian-based (92% owned by Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance and 8% by Petronas) company produces composite materials for companies like Airbus and Lotus (composite body shell for Lotus Europa S). Team Lotus will be run by Litespeed. Litespeed is an F3 team that is founded by Nino Singh Judge and Steve Kenchington, both ex-Lotus employees. As revealed earlier, the team is expected to introduce its driver line-up by the end of next month.

No equity directly or indirectly? That maybe the case but the government does own 92% of CTRM. And since CTRM will be involved in what I assume to be the carbon fibre components of the car, a lot of money will be spent as carbon fibre components are not cheap to produce.

The report also says that Proton will only license Lotus technology and/or name to the project. What kind of technology will Proton license? Lotus does have F1 heritage but all Lotus cars run around with a Toyota engine. The F1 engine to be used will probably be Cosworth as it is the cheapest one available and the FIA has insisted that new teams use them.

And the chassis will probably be from Litespeed which is not free or cheap. That obviously comes with a set of systems and support which is on a retainer basis. And these don't come at your basic retainer rates.

So, it seems that Naza and Tune will be footing the bill. All a billion of it. Does that make sense for Naza and Tune? Especially since Tune is also sponsoring Williams to the tune (pun intended) of a few million dollars a year. Can Naza or Tune afford the whole setup, maintenance and running of an F1 team? Somebody convince me my money will not be used in this mess?

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