Riad Asmat (below) graduated from Western Michigan University and joined the public relations division of Nike. In this role he worked closely the various government agencies, sports associations and sports officials in Malaysia. he moved on to work for courier company UPS and began an involved in racing with a sponsorship of several local drivers and then he joined the Proton car company in 2006 and began to develop a motorsports programme for the firm.He managed various local initiatives and the company’s involvement in the A1 Grand Prix.
“I think I have a good mix of corporate experience, sports and motorsports knowledge which I am sure will bring an added benefit to Lotus F1 Racing,” he says.
How important is it for Malaysia to have its own Formula 1 team?
“I think it is a fantastic opportunity for Malaysia as a nation to unite under the 1Malaysia umbrella on a global stage. Malaysia, as a nation, has invested a lot into Formula 1 over the years with the Sepang circuit having hosted a race since 1999 and many talented motorsport engineers are already involved in the sport, and indeed other forms of motorsport. Under the 1Malaysia F1 Racing and Lotus F1 Racing names we will be able to give Formula 1 a fully fledged Malaysian team for the first time and really put our country on the motorsport map more firmly than before.”
What precisely is the connection between 1Malaysia and Lotus?
“Thanks to the valuable support corporate entities such as Proton which owns Group Lotus, and in view of our government’s 1Malaysia initiative, which is intended to bring all Malaysians together as a nation, the team has been granted the licence to use the Lotus brand from Group Lotus, who owns the rights to the brand, and we will look to cross-pollinate technology and knowledge between the Formula 1 team, Proton and Lotus. Lotus is an historic and iconic name in the world of Formula 1 and we are truly honoured to be given the opportunity to bring the name back into the sport. We know it is a beloved name and we want to reassure fans and enthusiasts that we intend to uphold its honour.”
The operational base is currently in the UK with technical partners across Europe, how is the workload split between Europe and Malaysia?
“The majority of technical work is currently being undertaken at our factory in Hingham in the UK but we have a long-term plan also to establish a technical centre of excellence at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. In the short-term, because we are still very new to Formula 1, we are working with trusted technical partners in Germany and Italy who are providing great support, while we also have partnerships with two Malaysian universities and specialist technical centres. However, the technical management and car build is all being carried out from our Hingham facilities under the direction of Mike Gascoyne.”
How is the team doing in preparation for its debut season?
“I think we can be very satisfied with how we have approached this big challenge and with how things are unfolding. We are pretty much on schedule with development of the car but there is still a lot to achieve before Bahrain in March. We are working hard to make this dream a reality and with such a talented group of people behind the project, we are sure that 1Malaysia and Lotus F1 Racing will make its presence felt quickly in Formula 1.”