He wanted a quick word about Tony Fernandes. Mahathir used to be Prime Minister of Malaysia but in retirement he’s apparently become a sort of Automotive Industry Czar for the country.
“Mr Ecclestone, it has been brought to my attention that you’ve spoken harsh words about Dato Sri Fernandes and his team in the press, lately. Mr Fernandes and 1Malaysia Racing are going through some tough times at the moment. However, Dato Sri has done good work to advance the cause of Lotus and Malaysia. His results will be put to good use in the future and he certainly doesn’t deserve to be called a cripple.”
Ah, so you mean he’s rebuilt the Lotus name for you and now it seems to work out you’re going to take it away?
“The Lotus name was never his, Mr Ecclestone. It was ours all along. We just gave Mr Fernandes some play room while we were building our strategy. And do not worry, we’re not going to take anything away. He will be amply rewarded for his efforts, maybe some extra landing slots for his little airline or some real estate in Kuala Lumpur, we may even make him a Datuk or Tan Sri. I still have to decide about that. But he will be taken care of.”
Airline slots? Real estate? Dalek titles? And here’s me thinking the good Doctor isn’t Malaysia’s Prime Minister any more. Anyway, my number one rule is never to go into discussion with politicians. Except for one thing, of course.
Thank you, Dr Mahathir. I’ll await the outcome. But whatever you do, whether it’s called Renault, or Lotus, or Protus, please make sure it’s well-funded.
Cripples are people who don’t invest enough. I hate cripples.
Talk about potholes. Would be even nicer to sneak some real ones in here and there, so they don’t know which ones to avoid. Keep this in mind, laddies. I want to see no more Bahrains, or else.
… the only stretch of road in Malaysia without any potholes.
Other than that the place is still a dump. Gone to seed after twelve years of no maintenance. They’ve done up the paddock area a bit, thinking I wouldn’t notice how bad the rest is, but Boss Bernie has eyes everywhere (and an assistant who knows her way around the internets). I wasn’t born yesterday you know.
Photo is from last year but fortunately the weather’s still the same. At least that’ll save us another funeral procession on Sunday.
At least one of the new teams is a shining light of hope in this sorry pre-season mess. To be honest I’d gotten a little bit worried because I heard nothing from Tony Fernandes for a while, so I gave him a call. One never knows, better to be safe than sorry.
Turns out, Tony’s been busy playing host to officialdom. Apparently they’ve renamed their Norfolk facility as the new Lotus Racing factory and that’s as good an opportunity it gets to do some old-fashioned wanking.
Here’s the notorious Dr Mahathir on the cutting edge in Norfolk. Tony was particularly pleased with his appearance, because apparently the good Doctor, who still wields quite a bit of influence in the ex-colonies, had cast some doubt on his achievements. ‘Almost got into some serious trouble there,’ he told me. Continue reading
Hardly got rid of Sir Swinging Dick or the phone’s ringing again. Tony Fernandes this time. He sounds harried.
“Bernie,” he says, “I’ve got Dr Mahathir on my back again. He asked me what our competitive chances were with Lotus and I made the mistake of saying that we aimed to be the best of the new four – us, Campos, Virgin and US F1. He said, what F1? US F1, did I hear you correctly? Are you saying the US are sponsoring a team as well? I said no Dr Mahathir, it’s not the country, it’s a private team. There are no country teams in F1. He says, of course there are, we are one aren’t we? I said no, technically speaking we’re not, but harm was already done. And now he’s continuously bothering me with all kinds of theories.
Latest is that the US F1 team doesn’t physically exist and Continue reading
Tony Fernandes just called. Wants my advice. He’s a likeable fellow, I met him a couple of times at the KL Grand Prix. Runs a budget airline out of Malaysia, sort of an Asian version of Richard Swinging Dick Branson but with a lot less bullshit. The airline’s his daytime job; in the moonlight he runs the Lotus F1 team.
Turns out, he’s being pestered by a fellow called Mahathir. Continue reading