Here's the (short) story of Habib, Malaysia's only pro mechanic in MotoGP
Over the years, we've seen a number of talented racers hailing from Malaysia across all three MotoGP classes - MotoGP, Moto2, and Moto3. While the talent list has been cut down this season, there's another Malaysian who has always been there for many years. But, he's not a rider.
Hibbatuulah Mohd Fuad, or more popularly known as "Habib" has been around for quite some time, and he's currently a part of the Petronas Sprinta Racing outfit as one of their many talented professional mechanics. In fact, Habib is the only Malaysian pro mechanic on the entire grid.
We've managed to catch up with him during the MotoGP summer break where he's taking some much-needed downtime here in his beloved country, despite having to go through the 'full lockdown' for the first time. Habib will soon return to his appointed station in Belgium, but not before heading to Austria for the upcoming double-header in August.
His crew is currently handling Petronas SRT's Moto2 rider, Xavi Vierge. A team of four talented individuals which includes the crew chief, data engineer, and two mechanics all strive for one thing and one thing only - to provide the best bike possible for their rider to perform at each and every track. Xavi Vierge is currently 9th in the 2021 Moto2 world championship title chase, and a third-place finish in Catalunya was one of many great memories for Habib and his crew.
Habib started his career as a mechanic in 2003, right after he graduated secondary school. Even before that, he's been in and out of race venues like the famous Batu 3 circuit with his siblings and friends who were involved in motorsports. Kicking things off with the Malaysian Cub Prix, Habib made his way to other race series like the Asia Road Racing Championship and FIM CEV Repsol (Spain) throughout the years before joining Petronas in 2006.
When asked about how he's able to stay around for so long and work well with other professionals in the industry, Habib stated that only two things are important in order to strive - discipline and communication. Working with people of different nationalities granted Habib a massive pool of knowledge and experience, transforming him into arguably one of Malaysia's most popular and decorated mechanics today.
In terms of communication, team members will often converse in English mixed with Spanish, but luckily for Habib, he's managed to pick up the foreign language after having worked in the paddock for many years. Even without vocal instructions, Habib and his crew are able to work on the complex Moto2 bike for every track just by looking at the datasheet alone on some occasions. That's a skill that takes years just to comprehend, let alone master.
As for discipline, being able to work according to schedule despite all the pressures that pile up during every single race weekend must be followed to the teeth in order to be and give 100% to his team and rider, each and every time. When he's on the clock, the phrase 'time is gold' is taken very seriously, but during break times like lunch, everyone stops whatever they're doing and takes a breather, also as a team.
This team synergy found in the Petronas SRT paddock and other teams is just one of many important factors in order to become a legit professional no matter what position one's holding in the team. Motorsports is a high-risk game, and everyone needs to be at their level best in order to achieve great results.
Despite working as a pro mechanic for many years, Habib still has a lot of things to learn. One thing that carries the most stress and headache has always been related to tyre issues. Every single thing can go as planned during the Free Practise sessions, but the same tyre setup might cause issues during qualifying and races, which are out of their control. Many problems can light up the paddock into a frenzy, but more often than not, it's the tyres.
Habib is still working hard to achieve his number one goal of becoming a professional mechanic in MotoGP's 1,000cc category. He's still developing his skills and talents required to step up to the premier class, and working with a team like Petronas SRT definitely has a lot of help as they currently have riders competing in all three classes.
His usual advice for any up-and-coming enthusiast who wants to dive into the world of motorsports is to always try your best, never give up, but most importantly, develop a good discipline and learn to communicate as a team however and whenever possible. That's a small snippet from one of Malaysia's pride and joy in MotoGP, Hibbatuulah Mohd Fuad, one of a few prime and true examples of the #MalaysiaBoleh spirit.