Malaysia needs 129 million dollars for F1 team

Aviation mogul Tony Fernandes said Monday it will cost about 450 million ringgit (129 million dollars) to put Malaysia on next year’s Formula One grid and to complete the 19-race schedule.

“We need 100 to 150 million ringgit to put the car on the grid. And we need (a further) 300 million for the whole competition," he told reporters.

The ebullient 46-year-old Fernandes, the founder and CEO of Southeast Asian budget carrier AirAsia, is at the forefront of the return to the sport of Lotus, which announced its intention to race again last week.

The team is backed by 1Malaysia F1 Team Sdn Bhd, a public-private partnership involving a string of top local entrepreneurs, as well as national automaker Proton.

Fernandes, who is the team principal, said the Malaysian team would hire 225 people including aerodynamic experts and engineers with mechanical and electronics know-how.

He said the Malaysian F1 car would be ready for trials at the Sepang circuit outside the capital Kuala Lumpur in February.

The first race will be in Bahrain on March 14 and Malaysia will host the third race on April 4.

Asked if he was confident of finding sponsors for the team, he said: “Have we failed so far?" in reference to the success of AirAsia which since its launch in 2001 has become the world’s 12th largest airline.

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