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GP Week : Issue 110
n Team Lotus team principal and Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes was awarded his CBE by the British Queen last Thursday for his “services to promote commercial and educational links” between the UK and his native Malaysia. “I am extremely humbled to have received this award today and I would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for bestowing such an honour upon me. More than a personal honour, it will serve as a catalyst to further enhance relations between the UK and Malaysia, particularly in the areas of business, culture and education,” says Fernandes. n Kimi Raikkonen will get his first taste of NASCAR trucks on Tuesday, after announcing a surprise move to the American stock car series last week. The 2007 F1 world champion is currently rallying for Citroen in the WRC, but will move across the Atlantic to the United States for their most popular form of racing. His first stop will be racing for the new ICE1 Racing team in the Truck series, before advancing to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. He will drive in selected races in his first year. n Team Lotus has announced an expansion of its young driver development programme. The Air Asia-supported programme has recruited America’s Alexander Rossi, alongside other European and Asian drivers, including a 12-year-old kar ter from Singapore. The launch of the programme was accompanied by a live demonstration run by Rossi and race drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen on the streets of Putrajaya, Malaysia. n Lewis Hamilton views the rivaly between him and former team-mate Fernando Alonso as one similar to that between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, believing that the Spaniard will always be his closest rival. He likened reigning champion Sebastian Vettel to a “new Mansell”, but sid he didn’t rate him as highly as for British former champ. “I will always think that my nemesis and my closest rival will always be Fernando,” said Hamilton. “I see him as my Prost, if we were [Alain] Prost and [Aryton] Senna.” Short Straights Karthikeyan: No excuse not to qualify in Malaysia INDIA’s Narain Karthikeyan says HRT have no excuse not to qualify to race in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, with the F111 car due to benefit from a new front wing at the Sepang track. After failing to complete a single lap in pre-season testing, the F111 got its first running in Australia on Friday, but failed to make the 107 percent cut-off in qualifying to make it to the grid. Speaking to Reuters, Karthikeyan said he was reasonably confident of making the Malaysian Grand Prix grid, while insisting that the new front wing would be on the car. The team had to use last year’s front wing after the new specification failed a late FIA crash test. “If we get the new front wing,” Karthikeyan told Reuters, before correcting himself : “Not ‘if’, we are going to get it. We are reasonably confident that we will qualify and if all these things happen then we don’t have any excuse not to qualify for Malaysia.” Team-mate Liuzzi admits that the Sepang International Circuit will not suit them in reaching the 107% target, with its long straights and many high-speed turns. “ We paid the price of being late from the beginning, so now for Malaysia we should be fully ready for our first race of the season,” Liuzzi wrote for ESPN. “I think things will be different there but, unfortunately, if I was to say at the beginning of the year which track would be worst for the 107 percent rule I would have said Malaysia because of its characteristics.” Meanwhile, team owner Jose Carabante has fired a warning shot at Lotus and Virgin by predicting they would be beating their rivals by the time the F1 circus touches down in Spain in May. The team, running on a budget of €45m, is bringing a major car update for the Barcelona race and Carabante is looking forward to beating the team’s back-of-the-grid buddies. “We did eleven laps with Liuzzi – if he had done 20, he would have qualified,” Carabante told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. “Getting within 1.7 seconds [of 107 percent] without driving hardly at all is a miracle. [The Barcelona update] will be enough to be ahead of Lotus and Virgin. Last year, we were in a worse condition than now and we ended up ahead of Virgin with twice our budget, and behind Lotus due only to one accident.” HRT to beat Team Lotus and Virgin by May, says owner 10