Team Lotus has hit the ground running in trying to win the hearts of local F1 fans ahead of the Malaysian GP this weekend. They were the first to organise a pre-race event with the street demo in Putrajaya last Saturday, and team boss Tony Fernandes is now saying that TL is “more Malaysian” than the other two linked to our country.

“Team Lotus returns home and we are all excited about the race ahead. There will be three teams here with links to Malaysia but only one team that has Malaysian blood running deep in its veins, with Malaysian staff contributing to our growth at every level and which has been built from the ground up in the same style as Formula One’s grandee teams,” the AirAsia boss said.

“We are enormously proud of what we have already achieved in just 18 months and we have done it through hard work and dedication, not by buying seemingly instant success through stickers on a car,” he added, seemingly taking a dig at the other player in the Lotus vs Lotus battle.

On track, the T128s are supposed to challenge the midfield teams this year, but ended the Australian GP in the familiar situation of one DNF and the sole finisher classified ahead of Virgin. Team Lotus Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne is expecting a better result at Sepang.

“The conditions at Sepang should suit us more favourably. I think the track temperatures will help us show more of the car’s true pace and as the layout it is quite similar to Barcelona – relatively high aero and a good mix of low and high speed turns – I think we will be able to extract more performance from the car than we were able to in Melbourne. The whole team is excited about the challenge ahead – they are energised by the huge local support we have and that will help us all put in a performance that will do our fans proud,” he said.