ICT powers 1Malaysia F1 Racing

Published on March 29th, 2010

Racing ahead into finishes at the Bahrain International Circuit, Malaysia’s own Lotus Racing, Head of Operations (Asia) speaks of Information Communications Technology’s (ICT) importance in Formula 1 racing in view of the recent call for entries for the MSC Malaysia Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards).

The MSC Malaysia Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (MSC Malaysia APICTA) Awards, is once again on its way with a call to all Malaysian ICT innovators and technopreneurs to showcase their talents and aspire for local and global recognition. Taking time out from his busy schedule, Mia Sharizman Bin Ismail, Head of Operations (Asia) of Lotus Racing, talks to us from the Lotus Racing factory in Hingham, Norfolk (UK) about the growth and opportunities for Malaysians in the ICT sector and in developing a k-economy.

How important is the role of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) solutions in Formula 1?

Mia: ICT is definitely crucial in F1. Firstly, as a communication tool. The entire team must be in constant communication, whether it be in the factory, on the circuit, in the pit walk, on the track and even between the driver and the team during the actual race.

Secondly, ICT is fundamental in the engineering of the F1 car. This covers a range of processes, from the design to the manufacturing of the F1 car. At Lotus Racing, we have to meet all the state of the art requirements needed in F1, and this includes having a team of trained specialist in F1 technology. We also need huge storage capacity, high speed communications, and complex ICT network solutions and infrastructure.

Another crucial area for ICT is in F1 simulation. The Data Acquisition system collects data from the F1 car which is equipped with multi-functional sensory. The data then is transferred back to track side, while the car is moving around the circuit. This data can be used to simulate any F1 track in the world!

What are the programmes available in the Lotus Racing team for Malaysians; aimed at building Malaysia’s expertise and knowledge of building an F1 team and its facilities?

Mia: We are at early stages in hiring Malaysians onto the team, be it in the ICT field or in other fields.  Our goal is to ensure that Malaysians acquire the expertise needed to be a contributing member of the F1 team by providing them with first hand experience.

We’ve also started to implement our internship programs with students. Given that we are a young F1 team, we can only accommodate a group of 5-6 students at any given time. The internship programme is held every quarter of the year and Malaysian students who are in their final year of education in universities here in the UK are shortlisted from a pool of write-in applications. This is an extraordinary opportunity for young Malaysians to gain valuable experience and soak in the excitement of being a part of one the automotive world’s most prestigious racing platform.

How much has Malaysians progressed in the Automotive/Racing sector from our partnerships to bring the 1Malaysia F1 Racing Team to where it is today in the F1 arena?

Mia: In terms of partnership, we are working with Italy for the wind tunnel system which is critical in developing the aerodynamics of our cars. In Germany, we are working with our Competent Fuel Design (CFD) house. Additionally, we are also in the midst of moving these infrastructures into our Higham, Norfolk centre here in the UK – a major step on our part. We have now grown from outsourcing to developing in-house capabilities or to be partners instead of bystanders. This provides us an avenue to gain as much knowledge and expertise as possible.

As, Dato’ Tony Fernandes mentioned, it is our 3 year plan to make this facility available in Sepang. In view of this, we are also in partnership with two Malaysian universities – University Technology Malaysia (UTM) and University Petronas Malaysia. Collectively, we are working on developing Lotus Racing facilities in Malaysia and my duty is to ensure that the transfer of knowledge happens.

What are the goals in ICT solutions (software and/or hardware) that 1Malaysia Lotus F1 team is aiming for in order to improve its standing in F1 racing?

Mia: In a nutshell, our goals are similar to that of a car developer. And that is to produce a vehicle with maximum performance and a system with great reliability. To achieve this, from an operations point of view is to be as efficient as we possibly can.

Ultimately, what we are all about is getting the extra seconds for both our cars. For us, it’s vital to leverage on existing technology whilst developing new ones, for that extra boost in performance. Our yardstick is to finish in a race, and everything we do moves towards achieving just that.

Give us an example, of one automotive/racing technology used in Lotus Racing which you feel best demonstrates ‘cutting edge’ technology?

Mia: At the moment, I would say that that is the CFD. This relates to the wind tunnel simulation, where we take the car models from the design office and we create a simulation in the virtual world. This is how we gain aerodynamic advantage with our cars and is cutting edge technology made possible with super computers. We are striving all the time to get even better accuracy which translates to a higher performance car design.

In your opinion, how important are the Malaysian government’s initiatives, such as the MSC Malaysia Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards) in inspiring ICT innovation amongst Malaysians?

Mia: Ten years ago, the government started initiatives for the F1, and I am here ten years down the road, as part of a Malaysian F1 team. This is indeed a great accomplishment for our country. So we can see how important it is to support such initiatives, and to inspire new talents to become better or to achieve more. It is fundamental for us to be always moving forward, and the MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards is indeed a platform that helps us, as Malaysians, do just that.

Tell us about some of the milestones in your career leading up to where you are today in the Lotus Racing team?

Mia: Well, I was in the Sepang circuit management for about 5 years. Then I moved on to promote and organize international races around the Asia Pacific region like in China, Japan and Korea. And though I’ve had great moments in my career, I must say that our cars finishing in Bahrain recently is truly a pivotal moment in my career. We were all in complete exhilaration and that feeling of gratification was immense for everyone. I remember Dato’ Tony saying that we’ve made history!

What are the benefits or perks that comes with your position in the 1Malaysia Lotus F1 team?

Mia: Malaysia is a developing country with a strong vision to progress towards the status of a developed country. When we made our way into F1 ten year ago, Malaysia joined the ranks of the small group of developed countries around the world. That makes me proud and I believe that every step we take to becoming a developed nation is vital. Being able to play a part in that process with the F1, is a great perk in my career.

What does a Malaysian have to do to make their way to the 1Malaysia F1 Racing team?

Mia: What we try to inspire here, is that Malaysians has the ability to make it big. So if you do have that special talent, work at it and don’t give up. When we put out our recruitment advertisement for just one day last year, we received 6,500 applications! Of that group, 16 Malaysians made it to be part of the team. So, never say never.

In your opinion, what can corporations or other related organizations do to improve or encourage ICT advancement in Malaysia?

Mia: To be willing to go the extra mile for ventures which takes us one step ahead in our journey towards a more progressive k-economy. Having the support of these corporations and organizations is crucial to ensure that we will one day be regarded as peers in many sectors of the ICT industry. At least with F1, I am confident that we are working hard to get there soon.


The MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards is an award programme jointly organized by Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC – the custodian of MSC Malaysia, the National ICT Initiative) and the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry of Malaysia (PIKOM). This year marks the 11th year of this annual ICT award programme which provides students, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), technopreneurs and local organisations a platform to present their ICT products and services, in any of the 18 categories mentioned in the MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards. Themed “Stimulating Creativity and Excellence in ICT”, online submissions form are now open for interested nominees from the 24th of March until the 28th of May 2010. Details of the nomination process for The MSC Malaysia APICTA Awards 2010 scheduled for early August can be found at www.mscmalaysia.my/apicta.


About Mia Sharizman Bin Ismail

Head of Operations (Asia), for the 1Malaysia F1 Racing

With an illustrious career in motorsports for the past 12 years, Mia Sharizman is a true product of Malaysia, graduating from University Kebangsaan Malaysia in 1996 with an LLB(Hons) and subsequently accepted to the Malaysian Bar in 1997. His motorsport career took flight after successfully organizing the MotoGP event in 1998 and moved on to joining the pioneer staff members of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), in the same year. He spent 5 years with SIC rising from Legal Officer to Event Coordinator, Broadcasting Manager and eventually Manager of Events and Operation Services.

In 2003, Mia Sharizman accepted an offer by Motorsports Asia Limited (MAL) to embark on an ambitious project to organize and promote the Porche Carrera Cup Asia Series, Formula BMW Asia Series and the Asian Touring Car Series. Taking on the position of General Manager, for the next 5 years, Mia Sharizman took on the tasks of managing all operational matters of the Series and the Asian Festival of Speed events in every circuit in Asia and the Middle-East.

In late 2008, Mia Sharizman took on the challenge of being the Chief Executive of Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM), which strives to improve and change the

face of Malaysian motorsports by enhancing its development programme to move the sport forward in Malaysia. Arriving to where he is today, as the Head of Operations (Asia) for Lotus Racing’s 1Malaysia F1 racing team, Mia Sharizman hangs on to his believe that whatever he has achieved and acquired must be fully utilized for the good of the country and the motorsports industry in particular. He is out to prove that a career in motorsports can be worthwhile.

text & pix: 1Malaysia F1 Racing



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