GOOD EFFORT, BUT ULTIMATELY DISAPPOINTING KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 17, 2002 - Up to the first pit stops, the situation in today's Malaysian Grand Prix looked decidedly promising for KL Minardi Asiatech drivers, Alex Yoong and Mark Webber.
GOOD EFFORT, BUT ULTIMATELY DISAPPOINTING
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, March 17, 2002 - Up to the first pit stops, the situation in today's Malaysian Grand Prix looked decidedly promising for KL Minardi Asiatech drivers, Alex Yoong and Mark Webber. Despite track temperatures of up to 43 deg C, both men were running strongly and a top-10 finish looked possible. Unfortunately, problems set in when the Malaysian driver's fuel rig did not deliver sufficient fuel at the first of his two scheduled stops, forcing him to pit again to have the situation rectified. He completed a further five laps before a worsening gearbox problem forced him to retire from the race.
Webber, who adopted a one-stop strategy, had powered his way up to ninth position when he came into the pits for fuel and tyres lap on 29. His efforts were thwarted on lap 34, though, when a switch failure caused his car to stop on the circuit. Despite today's disappointment, the KL Minardi Asiatech team is very pleased to be returning from the two opening "fly-away" Grands Prix of the 2002 season with the pair of World Constructors' Championship points it scored in Australia.
"The race was going quite smoothly, despite the refuelling rig failing to deliver any fuel on my first stop. With attrition and a bit of luck, I definitely think we could have finished in the top 10 and given our Malaysian fans something to cheer about. Unfortunately, fourth gear went after the second stop. I tried to drive without it, but then fifth and sixth also went, and there was no choice but to park up and get a lift back to the pits."
"It looks like we had a problem with the car in the end. The one-stop pit strategy was working well, and although it made the car very heavy at the beginning of the race and it was not too easy to drive, I knew if we could get through that stage, then we might pick off some people. I wasn't too sure how our competitors' tyres were standing up either, so it seemed like there was a chance we could get a useful result. I just kept pressing on and, ultimately, got some good experience here in Malaysia."
"The guys did a great job on what has been a hard weekend and a very hot weekend for everybody. It's a shame we weren't able to finish in the top 10, which would have been a reward for all the effort expended, but I'm now just looking forward to the next race, at Interlagos."
PAUL STODDART, Team Principal
"It's disappointing that neither Mark nor Alex was able to finish today's race, but both drivers and, in fact, the whole KL Minardi Asiatech team, again gave maximum effort in the extremely hot conditions. We are very pleased we were able to help Alex make a little bit of Formula One history today, by becoming the first Malaysian driver to start his 'home' Grand Prix, and it's tremendous that he was able to do that in the presence of senior representatives from the Malaysian government, as well as from the Malaysian companies that support the team so enthusiastically. We'll aim to get a better result for them in Brazil."
THE ASIATECH VIEW Although neither car finished the race today, for reasons that are now understood, the Asiatech engines performed flawlessly throughout.
ALEX YOONG Position: DNF
PS02/02 (No 22)
Fastest lap: 1 min 43.190 secs
MARK WEBBER Position: DNF
PS02/01 (No 23)
Fastest lap: 1 min 43.125 secs
PS02/03 - spare