BBC Sport formula1


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 13:24 UK

Lotus boss Tony Fernandes hits back at F1 'snobbery'

Tony Fernandes
Tony Fernandes was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Lotus Racing boss Tony Fernandes has hit out at the Formula 1 elite for failing to take the team seriously.

"There is a bit of snobbery as well," said Fernandes, who has brought Lotus back to F1 after a 15-year hiatus.

"It motivates me. We've always been underdogs, but we're keeping one eye open toward reaching the top."

Going into Sunday's Malaysian GP, Lotus have been the most successful new team in the first two races of 2010, outperforming Virgin and Hispania.

They are backed by the Malaysian Proton car company, which owns Lotus Cars, and will have plenty of crowd support at the Sepang circuit.

If we're still last in three seasons we've wasted our time

Lotus principal Tony Fernandes

Fernandes, an entrepreneur and founder of the Air Asia airline, is not concerned that enthusiasm for the team may wane in Malaysia, despite a lack of tangible success.

"How many southeast Asian teams are on the grid? That is a victory.

"The Malaysians will be hoping we'll beat Virgin and Hispania, that's a realistic target. The realism is there, the pride is there, I feel it very strongly."

While aspirations in the 2010 are relatively modest, Lotus F1, who signalled their intention to develop into a competitive outfit by signing experienced drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, are aiming to make year-by-year progress.

"If we're still last in three seasons we've wasted our time. I'm quietly optimistic.

"The targets for the boys (Trulli and Kovalainen) are finish all the races, and be the best of the new teams. The eventual target is to be up there with Ferrari and McLaren," Fernandes added.

Print Sponsor