Malaysia's Formula 1 aspirant Alex Yoong recounts his friendship and races he had with the latest British Formula 1 star Jenson Button at the TAG Heuer press conference announcing Alex Yoong's appointment as TAG Heuer's new...
Malaysia's Formula 1 aspirant Alex Yoong recounts his friendship and races he had with the latest British Formula 1 star Jenson Button at the TAG Heuer press conference announcing Alex Yoong's appointment as TAG Heuer's new Malaysian ambassador. Button has just made the historical achievement of being the youngest ever F1 driver to score a point in the Brazilian Grand Prix three weeks ago. "Button is an inspiration for anyone with Formula 1 ambitions as he has demonstrated that doubters can very often be wrong. Some of his doubters have been very famous ex-Formula 1 drivers who now had to change their views." said Alex.
"I raced him five times in the 1999 British Formula 3 Championship and I had enjoyed the competition with Button. He won three of these encounters while I took two when I was second and fifth in Brands Hatch."
"He's a nice guy, very unassuming, friendly and easy to get along with. I would not be surprised at all to see him challenging for the world championship within the next 5 years and I hope to soon join him in F1 a few years from now."
After missing the first 2 rounds in 1999 due to funding problems, Alex commenced his season in round 3 at Thruxton without any pre-season testing where Alex finished sixth with a total time of 23m 53.960s, eleven seconds behind Button who won with a time of 23m 42.503s driving for the Renault Promatecme works team.
Then comes round four in April 1999 at Brands Hatch and Alex evened the score 1 : 1 when Alex finished fifth with a time of 18m 20.724s to Button's eighth, five seconds behind Alex.
Round five again at Brands Hatch saw Alex edge into the lead when Alex finished his first podium second at 18m 07.881s to Button's 7th, five seconds behind Alex.
Button then evened up the score with Alex at two a piece when he finished just in front of Alex at 5th and 6th respectively at Oulton Park. Button's total race time was 27m 39.242s, four seconds in front of Alex at 27m 43.833s.
Alex's fund ran out again after that and had to sit out the rest of the championship although the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports came to his rescue in July which enabled Alex to participate in round 9 at the British F1 Grand Prix for exposure's sake. Button finished second while Alex was in eleventh with an unfamiliar European F3 team. Button 3, Alex 2.
Button proceeded to finish second overall in the British championship to secure himself the F1 Williams contract after a sterling double second performance in the Macau and Korea F3 Grand Prixs.
Alex, without a top team drive went on to do the Italian F3000 Championship where he finished tenth of 25 entries after only racing in 5 of the 7 round championship. He scored a podium second in the Donnington Italian round and a fifth in Pergusa.
"I am very lucky to have more believers in Malaysia than those who don't. I am grateful and ever thankful to my supporters. The support from well known brands such as TAG Heuer, Brylcreem, Malaysia Airlines, PanGlobal Insurance as well as the input from the Malaysian Ministry of Youth and Sports, LeMans Company and Japan Race Promotion are vital in playing a huge part towards my achieving the goal." concluded Alex.
Round 2 of the Formula Nippon Championship will be held in the TwinRing Motegi on the 16th April where Alex will be appearing for the second time this year with the all new TEAM MALAYSIA operated by LeMans.
He is looking forward to a better outing than rd. 1 where his car could not be repaired in time for the race after crashing out in the second qualifying session. Alex had then posted the 14th fastest time.
TABLE OF BUTTON/ALEX RACE RESULTS : 1999 British F3 Championship
Jenson Button Alex Yoong
Total Time Position Total Time Position
Rd.3 Thruxton 23m 42.503s Won 23m 53.960s 6th
Rd.4 B.Hatch 18m 25.788s 8th 18m 20.724s 5th
Rd5. B.Hatch 18m 12.841s 7th 18m 07.881s 2nd
Rd.6 Oulton Pk. 27m 39.242s 5th 27m 43.833s 6th
Rd.9 Silverstone 26m 24.564s 2nd 26m 56.183s 11th
NOTES: 1.0 Alex only participated in the above 5 races in the 1999 British F3 Championship.
2.0 Jenson Button scored two very convincing seconds in the Macau and Korea Formula 3 GP.
3.0 Alex was 7th in Macau and DNF in Korea.