What were the reasons behind your decision to
join Lotus F1 Racing?
"I am really pleased to be joining Lotus F1
Racing. It was quite a difficult situation at
the start of November with my former team
withdrawing from Formula 1, but I was convinced
I would stay in Formula 1. I was in contact with
Mike (Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer) about
the possibility of joining the new Lotus team
and it became quickly clear that it would be a
very good opportunity for me. I have been in
Formula 1 for many years but there is something
extremely motivating about helping to build a
team from the ground level up. There is a lot of
ambition from Tony (Fernandes, Team Principal),
Mike and in fact the whole of Malaysia as a
nation, and that level of enthusiasm is
infectious for a driver. I am really looking
forward to the challenge."
You are one of the longest-serving drivers in
Formula 1 - how important will your experience
be for the team?
"I have driven for quite a few teams in my
career, both manufacturer and independent teams,
so I have a wide range of experience. I hope
that this experience will be a positive asset
for Lotus as we begin this new challenge
together. We should not underestimate the task
in hand. Formula 1 in 2010 is an exciting
prospect with brand new teams, established
manufacturers fighting back and of course other
young teams looking to repeat their 2009
success. Everyone will be fighting hard for
results, but we still have all our foundations
to set, so we have a lot to do."
Do you expect the team to be immediately
"We have to set realistic targets for the first
year. We are one of the new teams, so we have to
prove ourselves and to gain respect in the
paddock. We have to establish ourselves as the
best of the new teams and see what gap we have
between us and the rest. Only then will we
really understand what gains we need to make
during the season. The points system has changed
to reward the top ten drivers, so I would like
to see us making progress towards the top ten by
What do you think of the team's approach to
Formula 1 based on your previous experiences?
"Having spoken to Tony and to Mike, as well as
being in Malaysia this week, I can see a very
sensible attitude and professional approach to
racing. Of course everyone supporting the team
wants results but everybody knows that will take
time. We certainly have the capabilities and the
tools to do the job. I know Mike very well from
our time at other teams and I have a lot of
faith in his technical operation."
What do you think of having Heikki as a
"It's great to have a younger driver like Heikki
on board. He has been in Formula 1 for a few
years now, so he has matured into a competitive
and well-rounded race driver. His experiences at
other teams will certainly help Lotus F1 Racing
as a whole and I am looking forward to working
alongside him. He is bringing a different
character and driving style to the team which I
think will benefit all of us during 2010."
You are entering your fourth season as a
Formula 1 race driver by joining a brand new
team in Lotus F1 Racing - what factors were
behind your decision to join the team?
For me there were a couple of major factors -
Tony and Mike being the two leading figures in
the project, and the backing behind the team
were both very important, and having spoken to
both of them I became aware that the whole
operation has a lot of potential, and a very
good chance of being a successful team in the
future. I saw Lotus F1 Racing as the best choice
for me to progress my career, after considering
several other options that were available to me.
What have you seen of the team so far?
I have visited the base of the team, as well as
meeting Tony and Mike, and I can see that
everyone involved is very motivated, excited and
happy to be pushing this program forwards. The
team has ambitious plans for the future and
everyone will see Lotus F1 Racing in Bahrain GP
as a professional, competitive yet very humble
group of intelligent individuals.
What do you think of your new team-mate Jarno?
I have known Jarno for many years now and I
think together we can push the team forwards
very quickly, and develop our car and the team
in a professional way.
Do you have any specific targets for your
first season with the team?
I always race to win and I will do everything as
if I was preparing to put the car on pole, but
of course we have to be realistic and keep the
focus on developing the team to a state where we
can operate like any other current top F1 team.
It will not be easy and we will have tough times
at the beginning, there's no question about it,
but as long as we keep improving all the way
through the year and have the earned respect of
the other top teams on the grid, then we can be
pleased about the first year.
Does the Lotus name add any pressure on you
or the team?
Well maybe at the beginning we will get away
with some difficulties, but of course Lotus has
been a winning team in the past and, like I said
earlier, the team has ambitious plans to become
successful, so after a little while we need to
be making progress to keep the Lotus name at its
current high status.
There has been a lot of speculation recently
about the driver line-up. How did you reach your
"Firstly, I would like to say this is an
historic day for all us at Lotus F1 Racing as we
announce our first driver line-up. We have three
drivers who I believe complement each other
excellently and who I think represent what Lotus
F1 Racing and 1Malaysia is all about. That is
not to say it was a straight-forward decision
because we spoke with other drivers who I rate
very highly, but ultimately we have opted for a
careful mix of experience, youth and ambition.
In Jarno we have the F1 veteran who proved in
2009 that he is as quick and determined as ever.
In Heikki we have a continuing rising star who
is still hungry to prove himself, and in Fairuz
we have a Malaysian national driver who is eager
to progress up the F1 ladder to fulfill the
hopes of a nation. It's the full package if you
What do you expect from the drivers in 2010?
"It is more a question of what we all expect
from each other rather than just from the
drivers. 2010 will be the first season for Lotus
F1 Racing and we have a lot to achieve in a
short space of time. As with any new venture, it
is a case of 'all hands on deck'. Everybody has
a vital role to play but it is about bringing a
new team together and gelling. The drivers each
bring different experience to the team and I
think the combination of their skills will help
us quickly establish ourselves as the ones to
watch in 2010 and beyond."
Did you ever think you would see two race
winning drivers in the team's first season?
"I am still pinching myself. We have not even
finished our first race car, so to attract two
race winning drivers to the team is a huge
achievement and honour. I think it is a
testament to our ambition and our long-term
vision that we have such talent on our books in
year one. It is further proof that we are
serious about what we do and I am sure the other
new teams are looking at us with some envy right
You have also unveiled the new team logo...
"We have thought long and hard about our team
brand and logo, and I am very pleased with the
end result. F1 aficionados will immediately
recognise the classic green and yellow colour of
Lotus, but we have given it a modern twist which
is essentially what this team is about. We are
not pretending to be the Lotus of the past, but
we are honoured to be able to bring the name
back into Formula 1 at the start of a new decade
of racing. We will draw on its heritage and use
it to inspire and motivate our team, Lotus F1
Racing. I hope everybody likes the logo and
enjoys a small glimpse into the livery of our
race cars for our first season."