Mission Accomplished SUZUKA, JAPAN, October 14, 2001 -- It started with a dream debut in Melbourne, just over seven months ago, when European Minardi F1 driver, Fernando Alonso, finished 12th in an untried car, and ended on an equally positive...
SUZUKA, JAPAN, October 14, 2001 -- It started with a dream debut in Melbourne, just over seven months ago, when European Minardi F1 driver, Fernando Alonso, finished 12th in an untried car, and ended on an equally positive note today in Suzuka. Alonso finished a fine 11th in the Japanese Grand Prix after a fighting drive, and team mate, Alex Yoong, completed his first Formula One race at only his third attempt, taking the chequered flag in 16th place. The team had a small fright immediately prior to the start of the race, when an electrical fault forced Yoong to switch to the spare car in order to take his position on the grid. Quick work by the mechanics solved the problem, however, and it was decided to switch the young Malaysian driver back to his race chassis, with the result that he started from the pit lane. It turned out to be a good call, both men stopping twice for fuel and tyres while running strongly and reliably to the finish.
FERNANDO ALONSO Position 11th Best lap 1 min 39.153 secs
"I believe today I have driven my best race of this first season in Formula One. I was aware I could count on a car that had proven to have strong potential throughout the weekend and I therefore pushed to the maximum from the very beginning of the race. I feel delighted that I was able to finish the year with such a fine race outcome. I would especially like to say thank you to the team - they have been just great all season long."
ALEX YOONG Position 16th Best lap 1 min 42.915 secs
"I had a bit of a drama at the beginning because of a problem on my race car and switched to the spare car. The mechanics were able to fix the problem before the race started, however, and the decision was taken to switch back to the race car and start from the pit-lane. For some reason, when I got back into my race car, the seat was not quite right and I started to feel pain in my back. After the first three or four laps, and for the rest of the race, I had cramps and couldn't drive comfortably. I therefore feel glad simply to have finished the race."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal, European Minardi F1
"Today was a prelude of what is to come from European Minardi F1, with a gutsy drive from Fernando to finish in a very, very creditable 11th place. When one looks at the machinery that finished behind him, you realise just how good a drive it was. For Alex, this Grand Prix -- only his third -- marked his first Formula One finish. It was a particularly gritty drive since he suffered back cramp for much of the race. All of Malaysia has good reason to be proud of his performances this season, and now he has the winter to work on his race fitness and build up those all-important testing miles. There's a lot better yet to come from Alex. Our reliability the whole weekend on such a demanding circuit is an indication the team means to carry on in 2002 as it has finished the 2001 season -- with significantly improved reliability and consistently higher grid positions. My heartfelt thanks go out to the whole team for a relentless effort this season, sometimes under highly trying circumstances. This has been a 'building' year for European Minardi, and having achieved our first-year goals, it's now onwards and upwards to 2002. Roll on Melbourne!"
Race chassis allocation
PS01B/04 -- Alex Yoong (No 20)
PS01B/03 -- Fernando Alonso (No 21)
PS01/01 -- Spare