1Malaysia for Formula 1

Published on September 21st, 2009

Formula 1 will be expanding its garage next season to accommodate more teams and don’t choke on your teh tarik while catching the season opener if the familiar be-winged single-seater machine sporting national colours leaves a yellow streak on the back of your retinas.

As of Tuesday, Malaysia is once again a key on the world map of motorsports as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, let the cat out of the government-sealed bag about the 1Malaysia F1 Team.

1malaysia-logo

A joint venture between the Malaysian government and private sector corporations, the team will ensure the country is properly represented in the Formula 1 cooking pot next season with only local ingredients on the menu.

The team will be based at the home of motorsports in the country, the Sepang International Circuit (SIC). Among the bodies tapped to participate in the project include the local boffins at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Petronas. Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM), a local composite manufacturing company, has also been roped into the venture to catapult local motor sports onto the frontier of the international stage.

Spearheading the team would be one of the sports most respected figures in the form of Mike Gascoyne, as he puts on the Technical Director’s hat. The crew itself, totaling 200 people, will consist purely of Malaysians, from the technical and pit side of things.

Gascoyne has already rolled up his sleeves in anticipation of the challenge ahead and has recruited some of the top names with proven records in the sport to cover the various disciplines of engineering, design and manufacturing in an effort to ensure that the 1Malaysia F1 team will be able to hold its own against the more established pit mates on the grid.

At the moment, a shortlist of six local and international drivers are being evaluated to whittle them down to the last two that will be lining up on the grid come March 2010. The team is expected to announce the final two drivers at the end of October.

“By establishing our racing centre within the country, we hope to also attract more foreign investments and the best technical minds which, in turn, will spur the growth of our automotive industry where we hope to see more R&D into lighter, safer and more cost-effective cars,” said Najib, who also holds the portfolio of Finance Minister I.

He also went on to add that the country’s participation in Formula 1 with the national team had far reaching objectives with the advancement of the country’s automotive industry development in aspects such as initiatives in green technology leading the list.

“We further anticipate higher commitment by organisations and attendance by individuals during the F1 Petronas Malaysian GP which will be coupled with increased tourism related returns,” added Najib.

“It is not merely a sporting activity because there is an element of marketing for Proton and Malaysia while at the same time, the AirAsia and Naza brand names can be popularised,” he said.

Taking into account the private sector slice of the 1Malaysia F1 Team pie will be highly respected and top notch corporate figures like Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and S.M. Nasarudin that were highly involved in the initiative.

“This is the Malaysian team. The car was designed at the SIC, manufactured at the SIC, tested at the SIC and the car is Malaysian-made. Even the pit-stop team consists of Malaysians,” reiterated the government’s top man.

The FIA has already received 1Malaysia F1 Team’s application to line-up on the grid next year. If successful, the 1Malaysia F1 Team will be lining up against the likes of staples of Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes as well as fellow newcomers USF1, Manor GP and Campos GP.

The government’s investment to the team will be solely through Proton’s means explained Najib when asked regarding the government’s contribution to the venture.

“If we want to export the Proton, we must ensure that the brand is strong. There is a strong element of marketing,” he went on to clarify.

The policy of “1Malaysia People First, Performance Now” that was first voiced by Najib earlier this year was the base of the team’s naming nomenclature that will hopefully raise the country’s name in not just the international motor sports arena but the international stage as a whole as well.

text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: Formula1

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