"To not finish after being in the top 10 would be a disaster for me." Melbourne, Australia - Tuesday, 5th Mar 2002 - KL Minardi Asiatech's Alex Yoong revealed that he drove to preserve the car to bring it home and elaborated that, "To not finish...
"To not finish after being in the top 10 would be a disaster for me."
Melbourne, Australia - Tuesday, 5th Mar 2002 - KL Minardi Asiatech's Alex Yoong revealed that he drove to preserve the car to bring it home and elaborated that, "To not finish after getting into the top 10 would be a disaster for me. It doesn't matter whether it is due to a mechanical failure or driver error. If I didn't bring the car home as my team wanted me to, it will be on my head. I'm very happy for myself and the team that we proved the team has the reliability to get the 100% finish record."
Yoong was troubled by a long brake pedal which restricted him from braking as late as he would normally had as well as a compromise wet setting of his car for rain contingency as reported in the Minardi team release. "I couldn't get into a rhythm as Mark (Webber) did. He was brilliant from what I heard. He drove to Paul's orders to preserve the 2 points for the team."
KL Minardi Asiatech's boss Paul Stoddart told Australian papers that if Minardi had merely finished the race without points it would have made him very happy. Both cars were considered unlikely to finish the race as both cars had reported problems during the safety car period after the first corner pileup. Webber lost differential control while Yoong had the brake problem.
It does not take a 'Ron Dennis' or a 'Ross Brawn' to figure out that the team strategy after Webber had gotten into fifth, would be for Webber to not lose fifth position and Yoong to keep his car in one piece till the finish. "I actually couldn't hear much over the radio but I knew what the score was and if anything were to happen to either Mark or Salo, there is at least another Minardi in the points if I brought it home." said Yoong.
Yoong did not join the Minardi pitlane celebration and had stayed behind the scene to keep the team's sponsors company, which we learnt later was the right thing that Yoong decided to do as according to Simon Munger, Yoong's manager, "It was Australia's day and Paul and Mark were the stars who represented all of Minardi to tell the world that a small team cannot be ignored. We were all also very happy that Alex got Malaysia into the top 10. His seventh is a mega achievement for his country as it is a very tough act to beat in the near term future for Alex and in the medium term future for any Malaysian coming after him."
Sepang's Malaysian Grand Prix is now only 10 days to go. Malaysians will now have to show whether they are as fervently patriotic and partisan as the Australians were for the KL Minardi Asiatech team and their driver. The Minardi team does have the calendar designed for them with the opening two rounds the home rounds for each of their two drivers. Will history repeat itself ? Unlikely, but never say never.