Alex holds distinction of being the only Malaysian F1 driver
IN 2000, the Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix was only into its second year. Yet, rumours swirled of a local driver being given a seat to drive in F1.
Alex Yoong was visited by Minardi sporting director Rupert Manwaring during a visit to Malaysia to meet with potential backers for a Formula One seat.
Manwaring offered him a seat and, by July, Alex managed to obtain sponsorship money from the government-backed Magnum Corporation – believed to be worth US$5mil (RM20mil).
Alex, then only 24, attended a two-day test at Mugello – becoming the first Malaysian to test a Formula One car with the FIA granting him his Super Licence.
He made his Formula One debut at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in 2001. During qualifying, he did not complete a flying lap. His car suffered gearbox problems and he had to share the spare car with teammate Fernando Alonso.
Alex retired from the race while running 15th.
He later made a deal for the whole of the 2002 season but struggled to be competitive and was not retained at the end of the year.
Alex, however, went on to chalk up a more successful career in the now defunct A1GP Series and the Audi R8LMS Cup.
Alex Yoong of Minardi (left) and world champion Michael Schumacher speaking to the press at the Sepang International Circuit in 2002. — DIGITAL IMAGE