Lotus F1 principal Tony Fernandes has risen to Richard Branson’s challenge for the loser of the two Formula One team owners next season to serve as a stewardess on the winner’s airline.

Fernandes, the founder and CEO of AirAsia, said last week that his new Malaysian-backed team had to finish ahead of Branson’s Virgin Racing “otherwise I will retire and kill myself.”

Branson replied at the presentation of his team on Tuesday by suggesting a less painful solution.

“He has an airline, we have an airline and if we beat him he can come and work on our airline as a Virgin stewardess,” he said, adding that he would be “game to do it” if Virgin finished behind Lotus.

“Bring it on, the sexier the better,” Fernandes told the Lotus team website ( on Wednesday, beneath a mocked up photograph of Branson in an AirAsia outfit.

“It’s quite fitting, don’t you think? Our passengers will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm,” he added.

“But, knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests ‘coffee, tea or me?’ That would be scary.”