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.
Source: Petronas Yamaha SRT