Razlan Razali, Team Principal of the Petronas Sepang Racing Team until December 31st, and after that, team boss of the new RNF Racing Team which takes its place, has been forced to issue an apology to the Malaysian petroleum giant Petronas. In October and November, Razali gave a couple of frank and openhearted interviews to the German-language publication Speedweek, in which he explained the background to the split with Petronas and the search for a new team.
The two interviews covered a lot of ground, including details of the split between Razali and Johan Stigefelt, who had shared leadership of the team from the beginning, and his regret at having signed Valentino Rossi after a strong start to the 2020 season for the Italian. He also talked about how he declined the first offer made by Petronas, with a reduced budget, and how he regretted having turned that down.
The interview which caused the trouble, however, was the one in which Razali delved into the details of the split with Petronas. The SRT team boss explained how the negotiations with Petronas had gone, and appeared to blame staff changes in Petronas' marketing department for the decision to withdraw sponsorship for the team.
This has not gone down well with Petronas, which wields considerable political power in Malaysia. As a result, Razali has been forced to issue an apology for the interviews he gave. In a statement, issued yesterday, the RNF team boss said that he sincerely regretted "the outcome of how the articles were written and the impact they have received. It was never my intention to create any friction between myself and the parties involved. With that, I apologize if the parties mentioned by these journalists are offended in any way."
How that will impact Petronas' further involvement in MotoGP – as title sponsor for the Malaysian GP at Sepang, and as official fuel supplier to the Moto2 and Moto3 classes – remains to be seen. One of the questions highlighted by Razali was the fact that Petronas were dropping his team, but not pulling out of the sport entirely.
Below is Razali's press release:
MEDIA STATEMENT FROM RAZLAN RAZALI, TEAM PRINCIPAL OF PETRONAS SEPANG RACING TEAM (PSRT) ON SPEEDWEEK.COM ARTICLE
RAZLAN RAZALI, TEAM PRINCIPAL OF PETRONAS SEPANG RACING TEAM
In reference to several online news article published in regards to the discontinuation of PSRT’s title partner, Razlan Razali, Team Principal of the PETRONAS Sepang Racing Team responded.
“I sincerely regret on the outcome of how the articles were written and the impact they have received. It was never my intention to create any friction between myself and the parties involved. With that, I apologise if the parties mentioned by these journalists are offended in any way. We have mutually agreed that the partnership have reached its purpose and objectives and given the economic situation globally due to the pandemic, I respect the decision made by the title partner to discontinue with the team. The team together with its title partner have achieved and accomplished so much in the three years of our collaboration and I thank our partner for the commitment and support given as we concluded on a positive note at the last race in Valencia.”
AZHAN SHAFRIMAN HANIF, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF SEPANG INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT (SIC)
“The said articles do not express the views or opinions of SIC as the team owner, and neither are shared, supported or endorsed in any manner. We respect PETRONAS’ decision to conclude the title partnership and stand firmly that the separation was mutual and importantly, amicably agreed. We would like to thank PETRONAS for their constant support throughout the partnership.”