KL Minardi Asiatech today opened its 2002 World Championship account in truly memorable fashion, when Mark Webber, making his Formula One debut driving in his 'home' race, powered one of the team's new PS02 chassis to fifth place in the Australian...
KL Minardi Asiatech today opened its 2002 World Championship account in truly memorable fashion, when Mark Webber, making his Formula One debut driving in his 'home' race, powered one of the team's new PS02 chassis to fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix. Adding to the team's unrestrained joy, Alex Yoong took the chequered flag in seventh place, having run strongly in a point-scoring sixth place for much of the event. At the end of what turned out to be a famous day in the history of the hard-trying squad from Faenza, the team notched its first World Championship points since the 2000 German Grand Prix.
"That was a really tough race and I had to push the whole way. We had a bit of drama at the pit stop, when the refuelling flap didn't open, but we recovered and didn't lose the position. The thing that got to me the most, though, was in the last couple of laps - every time I came down the pit straight, I could see the crowd in the grandstand rise, but there was no chequered flag, and I wasn't sure if the race was over or not. I have to say, I was relieved when I came around and finally saw it being waved. On a personal note, I'm really pleased that we got the car home and that we scored points in what is my home Grand Prix. I'm just really proud of the team and of the fantastic support we've received from the fans here in Australia."
"The team deserved that! As for my race, I had a bit of a hard time with a 'long' brake pedal. We had set up the car for the wet and the handling was definitely challenging in the race, which turned out to be dry from beginning to end. Mark's two points are simply fantastic today, though, and I am really, really happy for the whole team."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal
"It doesn't get much better than this! Even if neither of our cars had completed the distance today, I would have felt we had a fantastic week here in Melbourne, but to score points in the first race of the season, and for Mark to accomplish that in his debut Grand Prix, is almost beyond belief. This isn't just about one or two people, though; this is a team effort and everyone at KL Minardi Asiatech, both in Italy and the UK, deserves credit for their part in today's performance. It is also tremendous that we have been able to share our joy today with representatives from many of our sponsors, especially Mr Lim, the President of Magnum Corporation Berhad, which was our first Malaysian commercial partner. Without significant commercial and technical support, no team in Formula One is able to progress, and I want to thank all our sponsors for helping us achieve this result today."
The Asiatech view
We are very happy with the excellent results achieved by KL Minardi Asiatech today. Bravo for Mark, Alex and the KL Minardi team. They have proved that Asiatech engines can compete with the very best. Our efforts in developing engine reliability and power were vindicated today. It is always satisfying in sport when the underdog, with hard work and skill, can take advantage of a situation to overcome better-funded rivals.
Fastest lap: 1 min 33.296 secs
Fastest lap: 1 min 34.653 secs