The Formula 1 World Championship kicked off with much fanfare last weekend and now the eyes are switched towards our shores when the Petronas Malaysia F1 GP kicks off next week. As expected, it will be surely an interesting contest with 3 teams expected to fly the Malaysian flag. Deemed as the veteran is Petronas who will be racing under the Petronas Mercedes team label with 7 time world champion Michael Schumacher in the team. And then there is the rookie team last year under the stewardship of Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, the 1Malaysia Racing Team who had previously raced under Lotus Racing and has since changed its name to Team Lotus after the withdrawal of sponsorship from Proton who will be up on the track under Lotus Renault Racing.
Of all the 3 teams, it was Lotus Renault that caught the limelight in Melbourne when its driver Vitaly Petrov finished third and Proton Holdings Berhad, the parent company of Lotus Group is looking to build on that success and do better when the circus comes to town. Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, the Group Managing Director of Proton said that they are confident that Petrov would be able to continue his good run from Australia into Sepang.
Set for the weekend of April 8 – 10, Syed Zainal said that a victory for Lotus Renault would be more meaningful in Malaysia as compared to Australia because it is considered as the ‘home race’ for Proton. In Australia, Petrov finished behind Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing, who is also the reigning world champion and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren.
The podium finish for Petrov was made sweeter after he successfully fend off the attacks and overtaking manouvers by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso for most of the race. This surely marks a good start for Lotus who only acquired Renault Racing at the end of last season after the bitter feud with 1Malaysia Racing Team over the use of the Lotus brand in their participation. The issue is still on-going and the court decision has yet to be made and while that is not yet finalized, both teams are still using the ‘Lotus’ banner in their team names.