PETRONAS’ ultimate aim in supporting the local motor-racing fraternity is to eventually see Malaysians “becoming paid drivers” in the world of Formula One and MotorGP.
That, according to Petronas Motor-sports general manager Anita Azrina Abdul Aziz, is “the ultimate dream”.
“To me, that would be the ultimate ... a Malaysian who is a paid F1 driver or a Malaysian who is a paid GT driver or a MotoGP rider,” she told StarSport on the sidelines of the Formula One pre-season testing at the Catalunya circuit in Barcelona, Spain, last week.
She also spoke of Petronas’ quest to continue to boost and promote motorsports in Malaysia.
“For Petronas, we try our best to maybe identify some individuals ... we can’t help everybody,” she said.
“Some say they are good but we have certain criteria that they have to meet.
“We have, at the moment, eight people in our team and that’s quite a big number actually in terms of talent that we are supporting.
“We have Jazeman (Jaafar) in Formula Renault 3.5 World Series ... Afiq Ikhwan (Formula Masters China).
“And then we’ve got Nabil Jeffri (German F3 Series) ... Nabil is new.
“We have Dominic Ng, Melvin Moh and Fariqe Hairuman in the Petronas Syntium Team.
“And we’ve got two riders – Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah (CEV Buckler Spanish Championship) and Ramdan Rosli (Petronas Asia Road Racing Championship).”
She also explained that Petronas Motorsports had “a rough idea of where we think they should be”.
“But, of course, everything is adjusted according to performance and where we think they should be after a while,” she said.
“Because like Dominic and Melvin ... when they first started, they were in the single-seater.
“We were looking at it later and the advice given to me was maybe they would do better if they were in a GT car.
“And it worked for them ... they’ve been winning races a lot the last two years.
“So, there are successful Malay-sians racers out there.”
And what about Hafizh, who lives, trains and competes in the CEV Buckler series in Spain?
“We are happy with his progress because he only started in Spain last year,” she said.
“You know, a boy in cub prix ... his exposure then wasn’t that much although he had gone for some races in Australia and Japan.
“But to live in a foreign country, without your family, is quite a challenge.
“We had some targets we wanted him to achieve in terms of the CEV Buckler series.
“We did not expect him to do that well but he surpassed it.
“And if you saw him as a wildcard rider in the Moto2 race (of the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix) in Sepang last year, we actually wanted him to score one point ... improve on his position in terms of timing from the previous year.
“But you saw what he did. He was amazing ... he finished fourth!”
With Petronas’ continued backing, Malaysian motorsports is in good hands indeed.