Toyota out of F1, Lotus failed to woo Petronas

Fairuz is likely to be part of the Lotus F1 Team as a test  driver with  possibilities of him taking up a race seat.WITH one stroke of a Japanese pen yesterday, a new twist unfolded for the future of Formula One and a new scenario for the Lotus F1 team.

It took just the first piece of bad news on Toyota’s pullout from F1 for a handful of opportunities to emerge and much concerns Malaysia’s F1 hopeful Fairuz Fauzy.

As a result of Toyota’s move, it is imminent that Sauber, the victims of BMW’s pullout from F1 previously, will be back in keeping the projection of 13 teams to start next season.
For Lotus F1, this will mean the loss of a potential sponsor in national oil company Petronas, who remained tied to Sauber as a premium partner.

On the positive side, this will mean that both Toyota drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, confirmed by technical director Mike Gascoyne on Tuesday as having had detailed discussions with the team, are now available.

Gascoyne, himself, was previously technical director at Toyota.

Fairuz is likely to be part of the Lotus F1 Team either as a test driver with possibilities of him taking up a race seat as well. But Fairuz said he has yet to sign on the dotted lines.

This leaves the 27-year-old, who finished second in the Formula 3.5 World Series by Renault championship this season, suddenly with more than one option.

BMW had announced in July that they would end their F1 campaign at the end of the recently concluded season, leaving Sauber in the lurch.

But the outfit found a new lease of life in Switzerland-based Middle Eastern investment group Qadbak and their return as the 14th team was up to an agreement by the rest of the teams in F1.

That return now seems a certainty with Toyota out, but it could still turn out otherwise if the International Automobile Federation (FIA) decides to fall back on a similar approach to invite other teams initially rejected, to reapply as they did following BMW’s initial pullout.

British team Prodrive and Basque team Epsilon-Euskadi are two teams waiting to pounce on any vacancies for slots in F1 next season.

Without BMW, Petronas would act as the biggest sponsor for Sauber and this provides the company a firmer grip on team decisions.

Insiders claim it could now be payback time for Petronas, who has served as an obedient sponsor of Sauber since 1995, without a say in driver selections.

These claims indicate that there will be a strong push for Fairuz to drive for Sauber than before.

A reliable source said the decision makers at Petronas had been approached by Lotus F1 for sponsorship, but this depended on whether the Sauber deal was really due to end prematurely.

Lotus F1 team principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes confirmed that he had approached Petronas offering an attractive commercial package.

“As it is, it looks like an announcement will be made by Petronas in the coming days once it becomes clearer whether that vacancy left by Toyota becomes Sauber’s,” the source said.

“If Sauber are back in F1 for sure, and it looks a virtual certainty, then Petronas aren’t going anywhere.”

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~ by abuaina on November 5, 2009.

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