Alex holds dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the only Malaysian F1 driver

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Star Special -

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.