Tune Group Boss Tony Fernandes is up to his usual antics again. This time, complaining about the escalating cost for running a Formula 1 team. It is reflective of his own hardship maintaining a F1 team, which is at the bottom rung.
Fernandes says F1 ‘screwed up’ cost cuts
SEPTEMBER 21, 2013
Caterham boss Tony Fernandes. – Picture by Saw Siow Feng
SINGAPORE, Sept 21 — Caterham boss Tony Fernandes said Formula One “screwed up” the chance to keep costs under control as teams face a dramatic escalation next year.
The Malaysian entrepreneur said teams failed to come together and make a concerted effort to keep costs down, and also agreed to the extra expense of introducing a new type of engine in 2014.
“I think the teams didn’t get together. The teams had a wonderful opportunity to try and create a fair, equitable split so that the sport is sustainable,” he said ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
“Teams looked at things on an individual basis as opposed to working together in FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) and trying to find a win-win situation for everyone and create a very healthy environment in a sustainable sport.
“We screwed it up, it’s as simple as that.”
Fernandes has said in fighting in FOTA was to blame for the failure to implement cost controls. Several teams are struggling for money, and HRT went to the wall last year.
Teams have recently finished negotiations for a new Concorde Agreement to govern the sport and decide how to share profits in coming seasons.
And with an eye on environmental concerns, they will switch to smaller, 1.6-litre V6 turbo engines and limit their fuel supply.
“I’ve been consistent since day one that I’ve been in Formula One that costs are too high,” Fernandes, who also helms budget airline AirAsia and English football club QPR, said late yesterday.
“When I came into Formula One, people talked to me about costs coming down but I don’t think there’s been a single year it’s come down.
“I think next year will be probably the highest year — so I think there’s something fundamentally wrong. I don’t think it’s just the engine, by the way, I think the teams lost out an opportunity to get costs under control.
“I think self-interest overrode the sport and we are as much to blame for this problem as an engine.” — AFP
Let us get the facts right, in the right order.
First, Fernandes started the F1 team in 2010 calling it ‘1 Malaysia Racing Team’. It is very clear with the explicit intention to get Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s buy in and pay for the team which will eventually promote the brands such as ‘AirAsia’, ‘Tune Group’ and ‘Tune Hotel’.
That did not materialise.
Then he branded it as ‘Lotus Racing’, under license from Group Lotus. At the same time, Fernandes lobbied very hard to get Petronas to go with his Lotus racing team and become their major sponsor. Instead, Petronas went with Brawn GP, to be Petronas-Mercedes GP.
Group Lotus is a 100% owned by Proton. Then the licensing with Lotus buckled and was terminated, Fernandes changed it to ‘Team Lotus’. That dragged him into a legal tussle with Lotus Group.
As result of that, Fernandes went to acquire Caterham Cars and 2012 season, it is known as ‘Caterham Team’.
Bernie Ecclestone said that Formula 1 is a business venture for serious racing team players with lots of money and not for cheapos. “Why would I rob a train with only two and a half million pounds on it?”
The interview also suggest that Fernandes tried to get the low rung F1 racing teams to gang up against Ecclestone’s FIA.
In short, an F1 racing team is a very expensive proposition to do and maintain. And is not for low caste operators and wannabe hopefuls, trying to play in the game with and against the majors. Worse still, hoping to get others to pay for it and the story could not hold water.
Fernandes tried to do a ‘Malaysia Airlines-sponsorship-of-QPR’ for his F1 team. Then again, QPR is also a pathetic venture at the bottom rung of the English Premier League. He shouldn’t be too ambitious if he really can’t afford to have an F1 racing team. Or for that matter, an EPL team too.
It is so undignified, to be pitted last in almost every race.
*Updated 0130hrs 23 Sept 2013