Stoddart goes talent spotting

Minardi already have Malaysia's first Formula One driver in Alex Yoong and now, as part an agreement with the Malaysian Sports Ministry, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart is on the lookout for more up-and-coming Malaysian drivers. He and the country's...

Minardi already have Malaysia's first Formula One driver in Alex Yoong and now, as part an agreement with the Malaysian Sports Ministry, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart is on the lookout for more up-and-coming Malaysian drivers. He and the country's government hope to run the young drivers in European Junior categories as part of the Junior Driver Programme.

"It's part of our four-year agreement with the (Malaysian) Sports Ministry to set up a Junior Driver Development Programme," Stoddart said. "The initial plan is to get young guys closest to Europe, and we are hoping to select one driver for either the Formula Renault or F3 championship, or even the Formula Nippon or F3000 should the driver have the talent. Normally we would develop F1 drivers from Karting, but we feel it is important to get into our European programme next year."

"We would be looking to set up along the (lines of the) McLaren programme, that's the only way to get all the talent. If we find a really talented kid, then budget is not a question. We guarantee one place, but it would be better if we can get two into Europe for our first year but we are looking at Malaysians for help too because we need to view these drivers. Minardi have a reputation for spotting drivers and we will take the time so let's do something and do this together."

Malaysia is expecting a huge crowd for this weekend's Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit; General Manager Ahmad Mustafa is confident of reaching his ticket sales target. "We've sold 52,000 tickets so far," he said. "And I am confident that our target of 100,000 spectators for race day can be achieved. For the past three years, ticket purchases during the event itself go up to almost 30 percent, so we can expect a huge crowd at the circuit this weekend."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Alex Yoong , Paul Stoddart
Teams McLaren , Minardi