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?
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 decisionDr 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.
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.
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