Tony Fernandes announced to Reuters that his position as the Team Principal of the new Malaysian-backed Team Lotus will not be permanent.
Obviously he had something to do with initiating the project in the first place as his Air Asia and Tune Group will be providing funding for the team, but he only intends to be in the Team Principal position to make sure Team Lotus has the “right direction, the right imaging and the right future, the right strategic plan and marketing” before stepping down after a few initial races (perhaps after Melbourne) to make way for someone much more experienced.
The team principal would most likely be a non-Malaysian. Tony himself admits that it is a tall order right now to have a Malaysian team principal right away. Even Team A1 Malaysia is head by a “Mat Salleh”, Jack Cunningham. Even for the drivers, Tony thinks there is no need for a Malaysian line-up for now.
“My personal preference would be to try to get someone with lots of experience, though he may be ending his career, who can add a lot of experience and develop the car. The right personality that can transfer knowledge and enjoy working with people is critical. There’s no point throwing someone in at the deep end if he’s not ready,” he said.
This is actually the norm with F1 teams that are starting off – the pairing of drivers is usually a young driver and someone who has more experience under his belt, such as David Coulthard in Red Bull and Giancarlo Fisichella in Force India. The young driver in Team Lotus F1’s case can be a Malaysian (such as Fairuz Fauzy, a name that keeps popping up) and the other can be someone with experience. The official and confirmed line-up is expected to be announced by the end of October.