Monday, December 28, 2009

F1 debacle: Who is Tony and Alex to talk of patriotism?


Airasia's Tony Fernandez have been going around town bad mouthing Petronas since they decided not join to Tony's 1Malaysia F1 Team (1MF1T) initiative. But the Team Principal has not gone the way of Alex Yoong to openly accused Petronas as unpatriotic.

However, he has done so in private. Not only that, he is sulking about his Airasia giving Petronas a lot of businesses. Sure, read "subsidised" fuel too.

Pleaseee la Tony .... Having done an insidious number on MAS with the help of Khairy and Zaki Zahid, did his Magic Mirror said he is the most patriotic of them all in this land of plenty called Malaysia?

It is obvious that F1 is just the high exposure event he needed to project himself as the darker skinned Sir Richard Branson. That way he hope to get some suckers to buy his increasingly cash strapped Airasia. It is living on hand to mouth and the problem could surface in a metter of months.

F1 will be a convenient deviation and a chance to fleece Petronas. Tony's expressed frustation only shows he is overly dependent on Petronas and it shows he has no global network to put his F1 team together.

In the first place, why should Tony be the Team Principal when he has never involved himself in F1 race before? Did he for once ever thought that by himself being the Team Principal, it will be a sure dealbreaker? He should have let the more established Petronas take the driver seat.

Talking about driver seat, Alex Yoong should get himself a mirror to look at himself and ask himself (not ask the mirror) whether he is worthy to accuse other's as unpatriotic. What has he contributed to the nation worthy to call others as unpatriotic? Would he dare compare with Petronas's valueless contribution to the nation?

F**k him!

Just cause he has a glamorous wife, do remember that he did not have a glorious racing career. Alex not inly failed as an F1 driver but was a non starter. He was not able to score a measly single point as sponsor Magnum-requested driver for Minardi. Neither could he do well for the Malaysian A1 racing team. Some budak Melayu did a significantly better job.

Did Alex for once think how much confidence to attract potential sponsor with him as Head of Driver Development for the Lotus team? He could only excell in the art of F1 road safety by avoiding to overtake other cars.

Having that off my chest, it time to discuss the issue of F1 sponsorchip by Petronas rationally. Trust me to shoot both side of the divide on the issue.

The first we need to do is to shrug off the patriotism argument. The competing teams in F1 race are not based on country representation but team led by motor companies' initiative and their sponsors. So, when Tony package the team as 1Malaysia F1 team (1MF1T), that was a crude tasteless commercial hype that shows corporate indifference to 1Malaysia.

The spirit in 1Malaysia lies with the slogan "Rakyat didahulukan, Pencapaian diutamakan". It is about giving priority to the peoples' needs and that aim is guided by a set of specific targets. F1 with 1Malaysia is in conflict.

1Malaysia would have been better represented by having the money spent for F1 racing channelled into forinstance, providing MARA with more money to give out scholarships and more allocations for the inadequately budgetted welfare programs.

Having said that, this shows this blogger has the least interest in F1 motorsports. Not to say never, this blogger attended the race once. It was a free ticket meant for the proletariat part of the course at a chinceny point. The spot gave a better view of the race than the podium where cars zoom faster than the speed our neck could turn.

But 10 minutes into the race and curiosity wearing off, F1 race was just a hot, noisy and confusing event. The commentator was hardly audible on the speaker, and quickly you lose track of things. Who is leading and who is not and which car did how many pitstops.

The real financial benefit of F1, as this blogger understand it, goes all to Bernie Ecklestone. Unlike other world class sports event, none of the TV revenue is shared with the race organisers. The teams had to pay for their own expenses through sponsors.

The sponsors only benefit is the prestige and airtime value, particularly for teams having the lead and more with the podium finish team. Sponsors in related manufacturing business for car, engine, tyre, and lubricant and fuel suppliers could use the F1 race as testbed. Advertisers gets worldwide attention for their product, brand and perhaps prestige to advertise on an F1 car or around the race track.

This pose the question as to what do Lotus, Petronas, and Airasia get out of participating in F1.

Come to think of it, let's not discuss Airsia. It is just about promoting Tony who will never ever be as handsome, charming and thrilling as Sir Richard Branson.

For Lotus, it is quite straight forward. They were part of the F1 circuit but quit since 1994, due to financial problem. It is a natural involvement, if they can afford it.

Tony claim that his Lotus team will bring the whole technical team and establish a facility here in Malaysia. Since it is Tony kaki auta talking, this blogger is sceptical.

He is talking about having the team and wind tunnel facility here in which as I was told, none of the Japanese major car manufactuers participating in FI have such facilities. Do we have the expertise here? Will that mean having the expat from Norwich here?

For Petronas, it is understood from the press report that by signing as part of the Mercedes team, it is an opportunity to be part of the much needed brand repositioning to be seen as a global player.

From my source, Petronas had recently struck oil in few major oil fields in Iraq. Having competed against the Mat Salleh, Petronas secured four contracts as operator and contractor.

Mind you, despite Iraq is under the American illegal invasion and Malaysia being vocal against the invasion, Petronas managed to win contracts as a both Contractor and Operator.

My shipbuilder school buddy having been going in and out of Iraq since before the invasion. He said securing contracts in Iraq is an international bidding game. There is no hanky panky involved and he liked that way of doing business.

Sceptics say Petronas managed to get those contracts by virtue of being the token Muslim country able to compete. Oil exploration, they claimed is about international diplomacy and much of what Petronas success is from the effort of Tun Dr Mahathir during his premiership. Anwar's so-called International contacts brought in none and he lied if he claim he could.

My disinterest in F1 motorsports is unable to fathom the link between F1 sponsorship and global brand respositioning. Petronas is not a retail brand beyond the shores of Malaysia.

As far as players in the world of oil cartel is concern, they know each other and do not need to advertise to be known. More so, of successful state owned oil companies like Petronas. These oil companies compete and colloborate with each other everywhere. One can call it friendly competition.

But as Petronas statement claim, the deal came with a contract from Mercedes for use of Petronas lubricant for the F1 race car. I am not sure if it was the same case with the earlier Sauber team sponsored by Petronas.

Mercedes enticed Petronas with a 5-year contract for use of Petronas lubricant for the first field run for all Mercedes Benz car sold in China, UK and certain parts of Europe.

On an optimistic note, maybe there are prospects for other contracts services with Mercedes Benz. But still, this blogger find it hard to swallow the prospect of RM1 billion being chanelled to entertain the world with a series of motorcar race in which it could have benefited the man in the streets of Malaysia.

Read Bigdog for his vociferous support for Mercedes Benz here.

Other the cynical words on Tony and Alex, Petronas have been criticised as not patriotic for inking the Mercedes deal as a pressure to oust Petronas Chairman and CEO, Tan Sri Hasan Merican. He was alleged to have made the Mercedes decision without the consent of Dato Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak.

Hasan has been under heavy criticism due to the Board of Directors twice earlier decision to refuse Najib's suggested appointment of Omar Ong as a member of the Board of Petronas.

As far as Hasan's position in Petronas, the prerogative lies with with the PM and one can only advise or express one's view. Hasan has been instrumental in the implementation of the Government policy to expand Petronas abroad and he has delivered.

Of late, near the end of his contract term, there are many personal allegations made against Hasan. For that, it must be substantiated with details and if possible documents.

In case anyone is suspicious that Omar is behind the scene being his usual political self, this blogger will not agree because he did not receive any information of Omar being behind the latest opposition to the Mercedes deal.

The latest on the Mercedes deal, read The Malaysian Insider report below:
Petronas deal to sponsor Mercedes GP was a business decision

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The controversial decision by national oil company Petronas to sponsor the Mercedes Formula One team instead of the Malaysian-backed Lotus F1 racing team was not made without sanction from the administration of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, The Malaysian Insider understands.

Since last week's announcement of the Mercedes sponsorship, speculation has been rife about the future of Petronas chief executive Tan Sri Hassan Merican.

Conservative hawks within Umno have also been questioning the patriotism of the move by Petronas to back Mercedes instead of Lotus F1, which has been touted here as the 1 Malaysia F1 team after the prime minister's political slogan.

But according to industry sources familiar with the deal, Hassan, who is slated to retire in February, had made a strong argument for backing Mercedes to the government.

"Tan Sri Hassan would not have done this without sanction," a source told The Malaysian Insider about the decision.

It is understood that Petronas had considered the relative value to the company's future plans and decided Mercedes would fit into its plans better than Lotus.

Petronas is hoping that through its collaboration with Mercedes Formula One, it will be able generate business growth in the lubricants market.

Hassan and the Petronas management are understood to have argued that while the Lotus brand had huge historical significance, it did not sell many cars compared with Mercedes.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Petronas, which has been involved in Formula One for more than a decade now, was not looking at just establishing a brand presence through its motorsports sponsorship.

"It is about building a market for lubricants, and that can be achieved better with Mercedes and Michael Schumacher," a source told The Malaysian Insider, in reference to the return to racing of the legend in the Mercedes team.

Another factor that was considered in Petronas' decision was the fact that despite the government's backing, the Lotus F1 team would not be known as the 1 Malaysia F1 team. It has been officially entered as the Lotus F1 team.

The Petronas decision has piled the pressure on Lotus F1 boss Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, who also controls AirAsia, to bring in the funds needed for his team.

Fernandes had hoped to bring Petronas on board given that his team has government support and his airline is a major purchaser of aviation fuel. The Lotus car company is also owned by Proton.

With no other local company either having the funds or seeking a global presence, Lotus F1 is likely to have to go global in its search for a major sponsor.

Lotus F1 was understood to have been seeking US$85 million (RM297 million) in funds from Petronas.
Dr Mahathir was supportive of the Lotus effort and was present at the 1MF1T launch. He has not uttered a word against any of these initiatives. So did Najib and by the MI report, he seemed fine with both.

Why quarrel over it? Malaysian can support which ever team they want. Just like they made the choice between Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or other English League teams.

Certainly the prospect of 41-year old Michael Schumacher comeback and trying for his 8th F1 championship will certainly be a thriller. Why not a Malaysian 1-2-3-4 finish? And the possibility of a fine finish by our Lotus Malaysian third driver?

However, socialistic me is really not thrilled with all these. But, I am just glad with the possibility that the 1Malaysia slogan will not be commercially abused and wrongly potrayed by that pariah salesman.


* Edited 2:00 am 29/12

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who is our real Father of Independence?
Azly Rahman
Sep 12, 05 3:49pm

The French thinker Voltaire once said: “There is no history, only fictions of varying degrees of plausibility.”

And so, who is the father of Malaysia’s independence? This seems to be the impetus of our national debate. Intellectually I see this topic as highly stimulating for younger generations of Malaysians who are beginning to get the feel of, and exposure to, the postmodern sensibility.

If we desensitise sensitive issues, we will open up newer frontiers of thinking and understanding.We cannot keep on lodging police reports every time somebody brings up questions we cannot answer. This only reflects our mental weakness in dealing with emerging issues. We must think like scientists and philosophers in order to seek better political alternatives. Scientific breakthroughs are based on the constant revision of theories and that create ‘Kuhnian Revolutions’.

Similarly, as a thinking nation constantly trying to understand history as a mirror of our existence, we must create spaces of dialogue on these issues so that our minds may become sharper and less prone to the attacks of unseen waves of mental colonisation that will eventually lead to physical, moral, and material colonisation.

"Real issue"

We must come to terms with the issue of ‘who is the real father of independence’ and explore perspectives to this question. I am sure we will arrive at an answer. I will offer an answer at the end of this essay. I am however more interested in the question of what makes us reach the decision to honour Tunku Abdul Rahman. He is already honoured. I am more interested in the archeology of the ideology and the process, rather than the product of this thinking itself. Why him instead of others? What institutional arrangement of political-economic relations decreed that he would be the one to be remembered/named as the grand Malaysian hero of independence?

Anonymous said...

Alex Yoong was given a chance & he failed.

Back to Petronas story, during the days of Sauber Petronas, Petronas at that time was a major shareholder of Proton.

The good thing about Petronas, it hired local engineers to be trained at Sauber (really trained NOT wayang wayang) until the team managed to design an engine. The engine design was proposed to Proton to be the GEN-2 engine but the then CEO had different idea.

Proton R&D also can design an engine so ignore proposed design from Petronas........ Petronas still sore about this and Proton has not tried to repair this damage.

Just because Lotus is Malaysian team does not mean Petronas is obligated to sponsor Lotus.

I believe Sauber gives more global outreach than Lotus now.

Biggum Dogmannsteinberg said...

Tony's argument for Petronas to support his initiative is becoz AirAsia uses Petronas Jet A1 fuel?

Bollocks!

Almost every single airline that lands and takes off from any of the 36 airports operated by MAHB are supplied with Petronas Jet A1.

Just as if Panasonic or Perwaja wanted to start a new F1 team, they expect TNB to be a co-sponsor just becoz they "Use only electricity supplied by TNB".

Tony sponsoring the Lotus F1 team is not without an ulterior motive. AirAsia is making head ways into US West Coast. They are expected to fly to Oakland (near San Francisco) sometime next year. Hence, they needed they attraction. So sponsoring an F1 team is good for visibility.

However Tony can't really afford to spend on an F1 team. Hell, record shows he even refuse to pay MAHB even when AirAsia is making money! Spending money (for tanahair) is never in Tony's blood.

So, by launching it as "1 Malaysia" team and getting PM Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak to support, he was hoping on Petronas's and other GLCs to co-sponsor his Lotus F1 team. So when the Lotus F1 team amass enough fund, at least when the cars race around the circuits carrying AirAsia's brand, he gets the visibility.

The Lotus F1 sponsorship is all about Tony getting GLCs to pay so that AirAsia gets visibility. For a selfcentred company like AirAsia to collect money upfront from consumers but later refused to pay MAHB for the use of airports, I am so bloody glad Petronas used logic and commercial sense rather than get sucked into Tony's PR game for AirAsia.

BTW, AirAsia is really not known to pay their dues, even when they have to. Until recently, AirAsia is imposed to pay cash for all aviation kerosene supplied. That shows how for a highly profitable company, they cannot be trusted!

Malaymind said...

ANYONE can be a F1 Principal if it was FUNDED BY PETRONAS. The main reason Tony was selected was because the government BELIEVED that he could bring some VALUE ADDED to the team.

On his side, he get to mingle with MORE POWERFUL people. He can grow his network even only for his OWN BENEFIT. All his contribution to F1 Team will only expand his personal potential to the max.

I think that's a good DEAL already.

So, I think to badmouth Petronas this early is not a good sign of A FIGHTER. He is not in the losing end after all to start the campaign.

This SUPPOSELY to be THE REAL TEST for him. PROOF to the Malaysian that you're worth to be in that seat. OR probably this issue can only prove us that he is yet another childish businessman who want to be pampered and at the same time, use this opporturnity to only expand himself in the expense of the team?

Anonymous said...

Lotus, the subsidiary of Proton has nothing to do with this team. Tony obtained the rights to use the Lotus name, under-licensed from Proton.

The way I see it, half-way through the season, with Lotus F1 team continuously filling the last grid position, Lotus and Proton has no choice but to step in to save their name.

Anonymous said...

Tony's so in love with Branson, he imagines himself as the Asian Branson. To his credit, he is damn good in imitating orang putih right to the put on accent of the Brits. Has anyone heard him speak BM? he is no more than a free loader who maipulates. Kudos to Hassan Merican for showing him that Petronas is not prepared to kiss his butt.

sri hartamas

Anonymous said...

Lor, what so special about Tony that required Petronas to support his F1 team? Is he is sooo patriotic because of 1Malaysia F1 team?

If Tony is so patriotic, then Air Asia should sponsor Malaysian football team instead of sponsoring EPL referee...

huh...

Goh Wei Liang said...

That's right. I am a little bit annoyed. The 1Malaysia F1 Team entered the scene with Tony Fernandes as Team Principal. Sports is not like business in finance or anything.

It is a winner takes all, losers get nothing and can only tell themselves "we try again next year". The cost estimated by Bernie is around USD 300 mil for all races.

But the "no frills" salesman and his team are budgetting around RM 160 mil for starters and the rest of the year will be subject to sponsorships.

I guess they thought they could buy the "dice" at RM 160 mil and Petronas can fund the chips, the cards and the casino table.

Ridiculous. Petronas should not be used as a safety net for Tony Fernandes or any of their ideas. It is bad enough for them to steal DS Najib's brand name of 1Malaysia already.

I however, have no comments on sending RM 1 billion to Mercedes. There are always pros and cons, financial analysis and economic prospects to consider. Only the Petronas management with sufficient information can decide and tell all.

Tony boleh kah? said...

Tony is so successful. He can always ask Air Asia, SCOMI , MalaysianInsider, ECM Libra, Tune Talk to be the sponsors.

Or he can ask Air Asia passenger to donate RM10 for each Air Asia ticket purchase.

If Tony really want to depend on Petronas money to finance he F1 team, what kind of entreprenuer capability is he talking about. In the first place he viewed his F1 team as business entity, so why cry for Petronas? Go raise right issue using Air Asia balance sheet to finance the F1 lah. Since he has been buying Airbuses costing billions ringgits like toys, so what is this few hundred millions for F1?

Nick Phillips said...

Urmmm, don't mean to be picky and all but Michael Shumacher has won the F1 championship a total of 7 times which would make him coming out of retirement to try for his 8th title and not 6th!

And as for a Malaysian 1-2-3-4 finish it's certainly possible but not with the third driver and most definitely it would be far from fine finishing.

airkita.my said...

It's a bit funny reading the Alexia the funny-man statements. This guy really struggle just to get to the finishing line in safe and sound without been terbabas/skipped off the track in the yesteryears F1 race. It's just too many to be counted really. So much for the family influence and the shoddiest deal that put him in the spotlight really, wasting our's billions of Ringgits in the process. There's others local driver who's far better and capable than him back then yet they choose him instead and it a very unfortunate for the country really.

Anyways, after the team and sponsors finally realized that they just spend too much time repairing the car as well as too much adrenaline wasted just barked on hope that he could make it to the end and just finish the race. Winning the race??Nada!Its never in the equation!


There go billions of our money burn in tarmac and bring nothing but shame old shame, that we as a nation could only come-up wth this feeble saddos to take on the world toughest mind.Bloody hell!

Even with the experienced gained in the world finest F1 got him no where as he's still struggle a bit against a bunch of kids to win the podium in a much lesser racing track. And yet this really arrogance guy and have no shame gave many statements over the years that make me wanna puke right away.

As for Tonni Tunnies man, he will always be with tonnage of baggage. It's a classics mafia style try to muscle-in with the tentacles reaching your's vulnerable...just be careful for he might cannibalize the F1 engine and put to his fancy mesin potong rumput in his garage.

A Voice said...

Thank you Nick Phillips for telling.

Just proves I am no enthusiast of F1.

Will do the needful.

bigboy said...

people out there,
i've been work with PETRONAS to serve our nation since 1992, start as field operator in one of pioneer petrochemical complex,

loyalty,share value,global champion make me stay until 15 dec 2009...
can't stand anymore...
work,learn,up and down, night and days,hujan,ribut atau banjir..keje teruskan kerana merasakan inilah sumbanagn yg dpt dilakukkan dalam membangunkan bangsa dan negara.. feel proud once declaring profit soo much meaning country will get more money to spend wisely...
but...today where the money goes..no more "hidden way" .
thanks to all bloggger to reveal all the thing behind the wall.

saya dah penat..korang nak ambik duit PETRONAS pun ambiklah...
aku kena move out sbb ramai yang dah rasa PETRONAS ini bukan lagi mcm dulu... survey la kalau x caya.

my agenda will remain-loyal to the nation...even i will be in the middle east next march..
to blogger out there..selamatkan PETRONAS..can we?

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