Fairuz commented “First of all I’m very pleased to be back home, and I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity to drive on Friday – it’ll be a good chance to test the track and the driving conditions, and I feel very happy to be back in F1™ driving for Lotus Racing in my home country of Malaysia after my last run in Barcelona. The car is much improved from the past two races and I hope we can continue the good development.”
Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne said: “We left Australia with mixed feelings – delighted that Heikki finished and showed, again, that our initial focus on building a reliable car is paying off, but sorry for Jarno that he didn’t have the chance to start the race because of a failure that was out of our control. We go into this weekend determined to give both drivers the chance to maintain our good start to the season – we’ve finished three out of four so far and I want to make it five out of six at Sepang.
“On a personal level it’s great to be back in Malaysia and give the fans the chance to show what we’ve been working on since September last year. I spent a lot of time here with Tony, Din and Nasa when we were putting the entry together, and when we launched the team, and it’s just great to be back here with two races done, and to show that the dream we had, and the hard work we’re all putting in, is starting to pay off.
“The race this weekend will be another tough one for us – the temperature and the weather will obviously play a big part in our strategy for the weekend, but I’m confident we’ll be able to build on the solid start we’ve had so far, and put on a good show for our Malaysian fans.”
Turning attention to the race itself, Heikki and Jarno both echoed Mike’s comments, with Heikki saying “I’ve always looked forward to the Sepang race. It’s a technical circuit, one that puts heavy demands on your fitness level and pays you back if you find a good rhythm. I trained well over the winter and am feeling really good, physically and mentally, so I’m looking forward to the challenge, and after Bahrain and Melbourne my confidence levels in the car continue to grow, so basically I’m looking forward to getting on with it. I’ve also had the chance to play a bit of golf on Wednesday, so for me it looks like this will be a great week!”
Jarno added: “I was obviously disappointed not to start in Melbourne, but that makes me even more determined to do well in Malaysia. I know the team and our suppliers have been putting in the hours to fix the problem we had, so I just want to get back on track and push. Sepang’s a hard race for sure – the heat and the humidity can make it pretty uncomfortable, but it’s the same for everyone and maybe my experience helps me cope with it better than some. I like the track itself – finding a decent setup is a challenge as it’s pretty hard on brakes and tyres, and it’ll be interesting to see how the car behaves with full tanks around here, but I’ll do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
Rounding off the Lotus Racing team’s thoughts on its Malaysian homecoming is Team Principal Tony Fernandes, who said: “It’s difficult to put into words just how happy I am to see Lotus Racing in Malaysia, and to see the reaction of the fans to our arrival here. It proves to me that I’m right about chasing your dreams. Just over six months ago I said we’d be here, and quite a few very experienced, very clever people said it couldn’t be done – you couldn’t build an F1™ team from scratch, literally from just an entry, to not just racing, but racing professionally, like we’ve been here for many years, in just six months, but we’ve done it and we’re here. I’m so proud – not just of everyone in the team for the hard work they’ve put in since September and continue to do so every day, but also of every single one of our fans around the world, and particularly here in Malaysia, my home and one of the homes of Lotus Racing. We are British and Malaysian, united, and I want Lotus Racing to be accessible to anyone, anywhere, globally. We’re here to show you that if you want to achieve amazing things you can. We’re living the dream right now and I’m just really pleased that everyone in Malaysia can join us in doing so.”