THE SEASON SO FAR - by Minardi's Alex Yoong Faenza, Italy - Well, the first three races of the F1 season are done. Those seven weeks have flown by so quickly and now we prepare for Europe starting with the San Marino Grand Prix this weekend. For...
THE SEASON SO FAR - by Minardi's Alex Yoong
Faenza, Italy - Well, the first three races of the F1 season are done. Those seven weeks have flown by so quickly and now we prepare for Europe starting with the San Marino Grand Prix this weekend. For us at KL Minardi Asiatech the season starts in earnest now. Being a small team compared to the rest of the other F1 teams we really appreciate being back in Europe for awhile as it gives us the chance to regroup and focus on making the car quicker.
All in all the first three fly away rounds have been good to us. We picked up two points through Mark and we finished 4 out 6 times combined. We have also shown that we have closed up on the other teams in Brazil. That's pretty good considering we only got a couple of days testing before shipping the PS02 off to Melbourne.
Over the winter I had been training to improve my overall strength and fitness as I had realized after last year that I had not been strong enough to drive a F1 car to it's full potential. Training had gone well and my overall fitness is quite a bit better. Unfortunately Melbourne was the first time for me to drive the 2002 car in anger and I found out there that my fitness was still short of where I wanted it to be.
Although I finished 7th in the race I was quite disappointed afterwards with the fact that I could not push all the way. It's frustrating when you work your ass off during the winter and then find out it's still not enough. Part of the problem, is the fact that we are still the only team without power steering and this year's car has a considerable amount more downforce than 2001.
Both Mark and I had expressed the view that at the physical circuits like Barcelona, Sepang and Brazil, it will be putting us at a disadvantage due to the fact that we will find it much more difficult to push flat out for a whole race distance. However those races are over and done with now and thankfully we will be getting the power steering for Barcelona.
In Imola's case I don't think it will be too bad as there are not many long quick corners so it should be easier on the arms and shoulders. Don't think I will relax though after Barcelona as I will be pushing all the time to improve my fitness. As my Engineer, Greg Wheeler says, "You can never be fit enough for F1"
Personally I've enjoyed 2002 so far quite a bit. It's been the first time since 1997 that I've been settled into a team properly where we know what the plan is and that we will be doing the whole year's racing. Everyone in the team is pushing to move up the grid and that means pressure on all of us. With the pressure and stability I've come to learn quite a bit about my driving. I have became more aware of what my good points are and more importantly which areas I need to work on.
So although Mark has been quicker so far, I do see a light at the end of the tunnel and am very motivated to get there. My engineer, has a lot of experience and with that knowledge we are learning what needs to be done to get me more competitive. It's been good that he and I are getting along fine and that we are working well together to get me quicker and more consistent.
Anyway, it's on to round four at the San Marino Grand Prix. Imola is considered a Minardi home circuit as the factory in Faenza is just 20min away. It's a circuit which has always been very hard on the brakes with some nice gradient bits in it. The circuit is heavily wooded and very picturesque. I expect most of the teams to be using maximum downforce here. Williams should again be fighting for the top spot with the Ferraris. Although expect some surprises as it looks like there might be some unpredictable weather this weekend.