PETALING JAYA: Contrary to what many think, it will not take more than 20 acres (8.1ha) of land to house the facilities for the 1Malaysia F1 team, according to Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir.
Mokhzani said recent media reports about requiring land of 8,000ha to 12,000ha to cater for the team when they begin operations at Sepang were widely off the mark “when Putrajaya, by comparison, is about 5,500ha”.
“What is required for an F1 facility won’t take up more than 20 acres. That can easily be accommodated at the SIC.
“What we hope to house is the research and development, manufacturing of some parts and do some testing. But there must be technology transfer from Lotus to us in Malaysia.
“I’m sure our engineers are itching to try their hands at designing an F1 car, pushing the envelope on aerodynamics, car design and so much more,” said Mokhzani.
He also added that this would have positive spin-offs for the automotive industry as they would be working on the cutting edge of technology.
“None of this is easy but I think we can do it. After all, Malaysian talent is well known and accepted in many fields. How many Malaysian doctors are now practising in renowned clinics around the world? How many Malaysian engineers and technologists are working in leading companies outside Malaysia?
“The F1 programme will entice some of our best talents to excel right here, at home, now that the opportunity has been created,” said Mokhzani.
He also refuted media reports that running a new team would cost RM1bil a year.
“There would be a cost to start-up, equip a suitable site, buy engines, get drivers and manufacture the cars. There would also be a yearly operating budget but neither would reach the figures quoted in the press,” he said.
Mokhzani felt that after 10 years of hosting the Malaysian Grand Prix, the time was right to put up their own team.
“We have Formula One until 2015, so there’s a lot more racing to be seen at SIC in the years to come. We’ve always been known to have great facilities but not the Malaysian champions to cheer for,” he said.
“I’m not suggesting that by having our own team, we will automatically have a champion but I do think we will have a better chance at creating one if we do.”