Genii Team Malaysia
The saga of the famous Lotus name throughout the 2010 and 2011 Formula One Seasons was long, tedious and ultimately unsatisfying, and was mercilessly parodied on the Formula One Rejects website, podcasts and forum by Webmaster Jamie McGregor, Senior Grand Prix Analyst Enoch Law and the vast majority of the forum users. The tale in F1RMGP, though, was even more surreal. For the 2011 season, Pacific Racing competed and were reasonably successful, but were bought out at the end of the season by "Lotus" team owner, Tony Fernandes. This was a sharp reverse of the situation in Formula One in 1995, when Pacific bought the remains of the original Team Lotus, creating "Pacific Team Lotus" which the entire F1 world saw as desecrating the grave of the great Colin Chapman. However, Fernandes' attempt to name the team "Lotus Team Pacific" was viciously criticised by the F1RMGP Series Management, and when McGregor and Law jokingly suggested that his 2010 Formula One team should be named "Fondmetal Team Malaysia", i.e. nothing to do with Lotus new or old and paying tribute to the work done on the car by Fondmetal subsidiary Fondtech, as well as invoking the rejectfulness of Osella's successor team, Fernandes took the suggestion seriously and so the F1RMGP team was named for the 2012 season. The team competed for two seasons to no effect whatsoever, failing to score any points and racking up an alarming number of DNQs on the way, whereas Pacific's one season had contained a perfect starting record and returned 43 points.
Meanwhile, Dany Bahar, devious owner of Group Lotus, decided he wanted a slice of the action and sponsored the Formula One Team Formerly Known As Renault, Benetton And Toleman (Sponsored By Group Lotus And Genii Capital) with the intention of renaming it "Lotus" or some variation thereof. Chapman had always kept Group Lotus, the road car division, strictly separate from Team Lotus, the racing division, and hence Bahar had even less right to use the name as a new Formula One constructor than Fernandes did, they way they both intended to do. At least Fernandes had decided to start a new team from scratch, for better or worse, whereas Bahar was looking to import all the history and kudos of the Lotus name with none of the effort involved in building a team up from the ground. And so, the spat between Bahar and Fernandes started, grew, shrunk, grew again, involved lawsuit after lawsuit, and ultimately dragged the name of Lotus - Group or Team, it mattered little by now - through the mud for two years, causing Chapman to spin in his grave so hard it set off a volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands.
The F1RMGP series management took a very dim view of this, and locked Fernandes and Bahar in a cage. Fondmetal Team Malaysia were forcibly combined with what remained of The Formula One Team Formerly Known As Renault, Benetton And Toleman (Sponsored By Group Lotus And Genii Capital), the Team Lotus name was returned to its rightful owner (i.e. it was buried in Colin Chapman's grave), and the newly merged team was to be known as Genii Team Malaysia - maybe GTM for short, or maybe just Genii, elbowing Fernandes out of the picture the way Group Lotus had done in Formula One and most likely causing those two team bosses in the cage to kick more lumps out of each other. Fairuz Fauzy stayed on to drive for the team, not really understanding what all the fuss was about, while Alex Yoong left in disgust, returning to Minardi. With few options for the second driver and with an utter dearth of resources from the legal battering Fernandes and Bahar had given each other only to end up in this completely ludicrous situation, they chose to accept the oil money of Ricardo Teixeira, who had had the carpet pulled out from under him with the withdrawal of Mastercard Lola.
Meanwhile, the uneasy partnership between Proton and Mechachrome which had produced a Frankenstein's monster of an engine – the triple-turbo 2.3-litre W9 which had powered Fondmetal Team Malaysia in 2013 to absolutely no effect whatsoever – finally dissolved acrimoniously, partially due to the team's sore lack of results, and partially due to Mecachrome's involvement with PURE, whose ultra-modern 1.6-litre turbocharged inline-4 engine found its way straight to the front of the grid with Formula One Rejects Motorsport. Proton vowed to build their own version of the four-pot turbo and beat PURE at their own game – difficult when the chassis it would be raced in was the GTM GEN-4 with a couple of notorious pay-drivers at the wheel.
Genii Team Malaysia's first season in F1RMGP is best described as an unmitigated disaster. Usually somewhere near the bottom of the timesheets in pre-season testing, challenging Minardi, Stefan and David Price for the "honour" of not being absolutely dead last; Fauzy and Teixeira proved how bad things might get by doing exactly that on the morning of the second test day. Hamstrung these teams at the back inevitably were by a rotten chassis, less-than-stellar drivers and a gutless engine - the Proton was the second-weakest in the field, beaten only by David Price's hateful Dacia unit which was a rebadged Renault that had been helpfully "detuned" (i.e. ruined) by the parent company, thus making the Proton the worst of the works efforts. Therefore, it came as no surprise that the team failed to qualify at all in the first six races, Fauzy recording a best qualifying position of 31st (three times) and Teixeira 33rd (once), with the alleged Angolan most likely to be found second-to-last, only ahead of Christophe Hurni's mirthful performances. Amazingly, Fauzy managed to drag the car onto the grid at Magny-Cours, qualifying 24th, even if he was merely a tenth of a second away from another failure. Teixeira, for his part, beat both David Prices rather than just one. Utterly unprepared as the team were to race, somehow they managed to get Fauzy's car ready, he took the start, managed to get through two pit-stops without any mistakes, and then, as it looked like he would get to the finish line... the car spluttered to a halt only one lap short of a classified finish with electrical problems.
Silverstone saw something even more amazing: Ricardo Teixeira qualified for the race! The qualifying session was intermittently wet and dry, and caught out Spyker, EuroBrun and ATS Rial, all of whom recorded double-DNQs by trying to avoid the early traffic. Teixeira's early banker lap was eventually good enough for 25th on the grid, even beating Ralph Firman in the Toleman into last place. Come race day, Teixeira lasted two laps before his transmission gave up the ghost. The two drivers had a fine chance to prove themselves the next day, though; their two appearances on the grid to David Price's one meant they were second to last in the Constructors' Championship and would be trading places for the first-ever Grand Reversal with the mighty Leyton House, the team with the most powerful engine in the field. Incredibly, given the equipment at their disposal, Fauzy and Teixeira both failed to qualify for the non-championship race, Teixeira even recording a qualifying time 1.4 seconds slower than he had for the Grand Prix the day before! Meanwhile, regular Leyton House driver Hideki Noda was utterly unimpressed with his new ride, also failing to qualify, so it was left to Bruno Giacomelli, an expert in handling painfully slow cars after all his experience with Life, to drive for GTM in the race; the engine let go after only nine laps, leaving the Italian wishing he'd never bothered. Given Jan Magnussen's heroics in the David Price, it could be argued at this point that the Grand Reversal proved that it was actually the GTM that was the worst car in the field, not the David Price.
Such ignominy only continued as the championship resumed. Teixeira would never qualify for another race, hitting rock bottom in Germany, Hungary, and the season closer in Australia. Only at Estoril did he slow even the faintest hint of promise, 1.6 tenths away from qualifying for the race in 29th place, but sidelined just the same. Fauzy joined him near the very rear of the timesheets four times, came close or close-ish twice – 3.6 tenths away from qualifying in Hungary and two tenths at Jerez – and, twice, made the grid almost by the skin of his teeth. Incredibly, one of these was at Spa, known as a fast circuit where the GTM was most definitely not a fast car; Fauzy qualified 26th, but the lack of speed in the car was evident in the race as Fauzy trundled to the chequered flag in 14th place, last of all, four laps adrift in a 44-lap race. The mechanics still celebrated as if they'd won the race, though, as it was the team's first finish of the season. Fauzy repeated the feat at Estoril, dragging the car to 25th on the grid, and lumbering round at a languid pace – which was all the car was ever capable of – to finish 21st, last again, but only three laps down – a better performance than Spa, despite the lowly place. That race was to be the last time that Genii Team Malaysia were seen on the grid; that they even bothered to go to the last two flyaway races was more out of blind hope rather than expectation, given what Volker Weidler had done for ATS Rial in Australia the year before, but neither Fauzy nor Teixeira (especially not Teixeira) could repeat his heroics.
Genii Team Malaysia finished the season pointless, having made the grid only four times in the season, and with little hope of any improvement in 2015. They had only managed to beat David Price; had they not done that, they would most likely have resigned on the spot, had that been an option. It was specified that to release Bahar and Fernandes from their shared incarceration, a contract had to be signed by both Keith Wiggins, who had originally had his team taken off him by Fernandes' hostile takeover, and also by... Colin Chapman. Death not being the handicap it used to be in the old days, all that would be required would be to load the old Lotus legend into the Hologram Projection Unit and that would be that. But something was standing in the way - the hologram slot for the team bosses was occupied by Günther Schmidt, known for having a fuse shorter than a Marine's haircut, and unlikely to take the news that he had to be switched off, even if it was only temporarily, so that a rival team could rise from the ashes, and all this while he was trying to prepare ATS Rial for the upcoming season. Somehow, though, silence fell on ATS Rial for a while, and it was revealed that an unknown medium had managed to persuade Schmidt to relinquish his afterlife for a day in favour of Colin Chapman - who duly signed GTM's release contract in the time available to him. Thus it was seen to that Genii Team Malaysia left the F1RMGP series, with both team bosses under strict instructions to go away and never darken the Lotus name ever again. The team was handed back to Keith Wiggins, who found himself with a mountainous task on his hands to rebuild Pacific Racing back to the outfit they were in the 2011 season.
Complete F1RMGP results
"'Bold'" indicates pole position. F1RMGP does not keep a record of fastest laps.
|2014||GEN-4|| Proton 1.6l inline-4
|BRA||MEX||CAN||SMR||MON||AND||FRA||GBR||GER||BEL||HUN||ITA||POR||ESP||JPN||AUS||NC||0||28||14th × 1|
|39 Fairuz Fauzy||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||Ret||DNQ||DNQ||14||DNQ||DNQ||21||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ|
|40 Ricardo Teixeira||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||Ret||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ||DNQ|
Ricardo Teixeira's GEN-4 from the 2014 F1RMGP season.