Promising Debut For Yoong. Mugello, Italy, July 5, MUGELLO, ITALY, JULY 5, 2001 - European Minardi F1 brought weeks of speculation in the Formula One world to a pleasing conclusion this afternoon when Alex Yoong was strapped into one of the...
Promising Debut For Yoong. Mugello, Italy, July 5,
MUGELLO, ITALY, JULY 5, 2001 - European Minardi F1 brought weeks of speculation in the Formula One world to a pleasing conclusion this afternoon when Alex Yoong was strapped into one of the team's current PS01 chassis and, in late afternoon summer sunshine, experienced his first taste of Formula One power, completing 20 laps around the twists and turns of the demanding Mugello circuit, near Florence. The 24-year-old, from Kuala Lumpur, is scheduled to continue testing for the Faenza-based Grand Prix team tomorrow.
Today's event marks the culmination of a seven-year programme that has seen Yoong rise through the single-seater racing ranks, starting with Formula Asia and continuing through Formula Renault, Formula Three, Formula 3000 and Formula Nippon, before stepping into a Formula One car. The test also assures him of a place in the motor racing history books as the first Malaysian to drive a Grand Prix car.
"The car is just fantastic," he commented at the end of today's test programme. "The carbon brakes and the downforce are the two things that immediately get your attention - they are just incredible! The power delivery was very nice and not a problem to acclimatise to. This afternoon's laps were really intended to allow me to learn the circuit and get used to left-foot braking. It's the first time I've used this technique, and it feels quite alien at the moment, but with a lot more laps tomorrow, I'm sure I'll get used to it.
"I really enjoyed today's experience and I can't wait to get back in the car again and do as many miles of driving as possible. It is a great opportunity and I intend to take full advantage of it, both for myself and also for the Magnum Corporation, which has generously supported me in this Formula One programme."
European Minardi F1 Team Principal, Paul Stoddart, praised the young Malaysian's driving at the conclusion of today's test session. "Alex has done exactly what we asked of him and seems to be getting to grips with Formula One performance with considerable confidence. He did 20 laps this afternoon, primarily to familiarise himself with the Mugello circuit and to get used to the controls of the car, which are different from anything he has encountered to date. Tomorrow, the plan is that he will drive for another 50 to 60 laps, by which time he will have completed a full Grand Prix distance. We're very pleased with his progress."