Monday, December 21, 2009

Petronas sponsor Mercedes F1 team... Not LotusF1

The news today. Petronas sponsor Mercedes F1. Interesting!
Brawn plus Schumacher = Petronas sponsorship of the Mercedes F1 project. LotusF1 must look elsewhere.

Petronas obviously see the Ross Brawn outfit with Michael Shumacher as a better marketing tool globally than LotusF1 the 'Local Malaysian team'.
I'm sure Tony, Alex and Riad will not view this as a positive.
Petronas have obviously made a business decision, which they are entitled to do. Petronas are Malaysian government owned.
For those who are not aware, Petronas sponsors the Malaysian (SepangF1) GP has input into the Shanghai GP and sponsors Valentino and the Yamaha MotoGP team.
This development does not affect the MUM project.
Petronas have an educational arm. They are not tied to one partner. I have had talks with their educational people, among others. As I have said many times, all the Universities I have approached were keen on Motorsport University Malaysia.
As LotusF1 have been given priority for resources at Sepang, and UTP (Petronas) and UTM (University Technlogy Malaysia) are already partners, they obviously have Petronas involvement of sorts.
UTM have recently signed a preliminary agreement with Proton for Engineering courses... Taken from the Malaysian SUN newspaper.
Speaking after the signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Business Advance Technology Centre and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia last Tuesday, Proton’s managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin said the programme is important to upgrade technical skills of its staff.
I was interested to see Tengku Djan won the recent Drift competition in Malaysia. I hope his brother and friends enjoyed it. I would hope Djan can see the educational benefits of MUM.
I borrowed this pic form Paul Tan
Tengku Djan wins the Malaysian Drift competition

I am talking to my colleagues in Malaysia, and I am contemplating a return in the new year.
It has been close to eight years since I started on the MUM project. Sadly all of it has been spent promoting the project!
Next year, I hope some of the big players see the potential and actually make a commitment!
A slight aside... The UK newspapers are full of Simon Cowells reaction to a Facebook campaign to support a No1 spot for group named Rage against the Machine.
The Internet is a powerful tool!
Once again I have added my journey via slideshare.
A prosperous and healthy new year to you all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I found an interesting blog entry on Formula Proton 1 Malaysia

Today, I found an interesting blog entry on It was an entry by RACINGengine:
Here is a Mall extract (He has written a long blog...)
Main Objective (for universities involve in this project)
> To help Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and other local Malaysia universities that related to engineering field enhance their operations (hopefully there will be Motorsports University Malaysia), students intake and students/expertise exchange with whole world.. Proposed universities collaboration
> Norfolk, England (in relationship with LOTUS Norfolk, Norfolk State University and Cranfield University)

RACINGengine has obviously spent a lot of time setting out his arguement. It makes interesting reading.Well done RACINGengine
It's nice to know that the message is getting out.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lotus F1 announce drivers. Drift champions brother wins a Formula drift ticket!

It's soon going to be 2010. World cup year! I'm looking forward to it.
Lotus have announced their driver selection. The Malaysian PM (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) was represented by the local Youth and Sports Minister (Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek) who made the announcement.
I borrowed this pic from the Sun article... (From left) Lotus F1 Racing 2010 drivers Heikki Kovalainen, Fairuz Fauzy and Jarno Trulli.

I left a presentation of my proposal with the previous Youth and Sports minister's office a year or two ago. It was accepted by her PA. I heard no more!
Interestingly, Proton had representatives there also:
Also present during the announcement were AirAsia CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Proton Holdings Berhad Group managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir and Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Wee Jeck Seng
. -
Additionally, the report goes on to say.
Ahmad Shabery said the 1Malaysia F1 team project was a good example of private and government sectors coming together.

He said collaborations with local universities such as University Teknologi Malaysia (UTM),Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) and Composites Technology Research Malaysia Sdn Bhd (CTRM) for research and development signifies the "Malaysian flavour" of the team.

It was also interesting to note that TeamLotus have brought the Local Universities onboard. This all looks very familiar to me!

Group Lotus appeared to have no representation at the event whatsoever. Maybe if Proton buys them a share of LotusF1 they will have some input. Obviously, Proton Holdings Berhad Group managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir is keeping a close eye on all this. I spoke to him briefly at the ASLI Automotive conference (26-27 May 2009). He had not heard of MUM at that time. I'm sure he has now.

It is highly likely that Dany (CEO Group Lotus) and Claudio (Group Lotus Motorsport) would like to have some tangeable connection to this.

Finally, I notice in the Cars Bike and Truck site, that a certain brother of a Malaysian Drift Champion has won a ticket to next weekends Formula Drift championship.

I won't be attending as I am in the UK. Good luck to Tengku Djan. I hope your brother enjoys the race!

A Prosperous and successful New Year to everyone!

Friday, December 11, 2009

"knife goes in your back as you walk out" - Tony Fernandes

Tony Fernabdes has been quoted in the Star (Malaysian newspaper) when referring to his exposure to the F1 community as saying...
“I thought I’d seen it all in the airline and music business. but its another level here,” he smiled. “Everyone shakes your hand and smiles and a knife goes in your back as you walk out.” — Reuters

Toughen up Tony. Get down the gym and broaden those shoulders! (How did this wimp ever get into the 'Auto business?')

For those of you interested I have embedded my slideshare presentation showing the MUM journey so far. Thanks to Tilo for his help with this.
Sofie and Siti deserve a mention for putting up with me whilst I made it!

Happily, I can rely on these guys to watch my back and not stab it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mark Reuss with his dad

In the last few days GM have announced that Mark Reuss is the new head of GM North America.
I used to work for GM as a contract designer. In the early 1990's Mark worked as an engineer on the Oldsmobile Aurora. I worked on the tube. My GM boss Ron Wojcik, was one of the nicest people I have ever met, as was Gary Gannt(my other GM boss). Mark,then an engineer, was present at many meetings I attended.
Mark's father at that time was a vice president of GM.
Mark went onto run GM's motorsport division. Lotus was no longer part of GM at this point. Mark might be able to get into an Elise, I could not guarantee he would be able to get out!
Recently,he headed 'Holden', the Australian based division of GM.
Here he is talking with his dad about Buick. The way his father is describing Buick, sounds very much like the now defunct Saturn division operated.
The Buick brand is now very big in China. Saturn will soon cease to exist.
Here is the father and son interview.
Good luck to Mark in his new post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tony fernandes interview on

Here is a small portion of an interview with Tony Fernandes. LotusF1 team principle: This interview is from

Q. What about the business opportunities that you see in Formula 1?

TF. I'm not so sure that the traditional form of just sticking the name on car just for branding purposes will be enough going forward. I think Formula 1 teams have to look at other revenue streams as well and over the next three or four years we have many ideas.

Q. Can you explain the ownership structure of your team and how the Lotus brand fits in?

TF: Lotus is a complicated brand. Obviously Proton in Malaysia owns Lotus, and we have a licensing agreement with them. I think over time that relationship will solidify more and more, and Group Lotus will probably buy into the team at some stage. More and more technology from our side will go into Lotus cars, we will promote Lotus Cars closely, and I see it in time being no different from how Ferrari works.

Group Lotus and Lotus F1 were always seperate. They used to both come under Colin Chapman.
Perhaps Tony has a bit more of Colin's DNA than the recent Group Lotus management team.

It will be interesting to see how this relationship develops...

I know for a fact that several senior members of Tony's team are well aware of my proposal.
Due to the fact that SepangF1 circuit was not interested in partnering my proposal, I shifted focus to Johor. Should Tony make a similar proposal to the SepangF1 management he may get a more welcoming response.

In fairness to SepangF1 they were keen to participate when I represented Lotus. It was only when (Group) Lotus showed absolutely no interest that the negativity set in.

I still feel that Johor has a lot to gain from this project.

Once again I have embedded the TV interview I had when SepangF1 was still my main focus.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Well done Alex!

Today I read that Alex Yoong has joined LotusF1 as the person in charge of driver development.
Good luck to you Alex!
Alex joined me for two days as my guest at the ASLI automotive seminar. He also agreed to endorse MUM. No fee involved.
It looks like Alex is going to be based in Sepang. LotusF1 have (I believe) educational agreements with UTM and Petronas university. So it looks like they have moved quickly to get some good local talent onboard.

Group Lotus are still in the early stages of making plans for the future. Dany Bahar will announce his plans in the near future.

I really hope that Group Lotus can show the same entreprenuerial spirit that Lotus F1 have shown.

They can't say I haven't bugged them enough... Dany Bahar is the 3rd Group Lotus CEO I have contacted about MUM... Plus I used to work for them in Malaysia, and formally proposed MUM at that time. To give you a timeline, I remember the draw for 2002 World Cup was doing the rounds in the Lotus office!
I certainly hope it is 3rd time lucky with Dany and Claudio.
I any event, I would like to wish Alex and his team all the very best in their venture! Let me know if you want any support from me!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Waiting patiently...

I am waiting patiently for some good news regarding Motorsport University Malaysia...
Lotus are now on google maps. You can go around the circuit virtually.
Click here to see the Pistonheads article.
I have embedded an old Kingston University clip of Msc students driving round the real circuit.