Racing driver wants Tony Fernandes to pay up RM3.6mil

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PETALING JAYA: Italian racing driver Jarno Trulli is reported to be suing Tony Fernandes to pay up the balance of £700,000 (RM 3.62 million) in compensation from the Lotus racing team that Fernandes formerly owned.

He also wants to be given his Team Lotus race car as agreed in a 2013 settlement with the team, according to the UK Evening Standard newspaper.

Trulli took a High Court writ against Fernandes and wants to make Fernandes liable for fulfilling the terms of the agreement, in which he was promised £1.3 million in cash, advertising rights, and the race car.

The settlement had been reached with 1Malaysia, the business through which Fernandes owned the Lotus team, but Trulli now seeks to make Fernandes liable to honour the agreement. Trulli claimed that it was agreed that Fernandes would be personally bound by the deal.

Fernandes, who is AirAsia Berhad group chief executive, and owner of English football club Queens Park Rangers, entered Formula 1 motor racing six years ago taking over Lotus, which later became Caterham F1.

Trulli, 41, said he was signed with Heikki Kovalainen for Lotus in 2009 and was promised £4.6 million in cash and benefits over three seasons.

After two seasons, he made way for a Russian driver, Vitaly Petrov, on the condition that the terms of his contract would be met.

However he said he had only received £615,000.

Trulli’s lawyer told the Evening Standard that they wanted the papers altered to reflect Fernandes’ liability, and insist that he should hand Trulli the money and the car, or its cash equivalent, under the terms of the original 2009 deal.

Fernandes left F1 motor racing by selling Caterham in mid-2014. It is understood that he is disputing Trulli’s claim.

Trulli finished sixth in the world drivers’ championship in 2004 and is a former world kart champion. After retiring from F1, he raced with his own team in the inaugural season of the Formula E championship.