FNIPPON: Yoong to prove himself

Responding to Williams F1 driver Jenson Button's call in the Malaysian New Straits Times report yesterday (21st Oct) to him to "Prove himself first before getting a F1 drive...", Malaysia's Alex Yoong agrees with Button saying, "I agree with...

Responding to Williams F1 driver Jenson Button's call in the Malaysian New Straits Times report yesterday (21st Oct) to him to "Prove himself first before getting a F1 drive...", Malaysia's Alex Yoong agrees with Button saying, "I agree with Button a 100% that I will have to prove myself first before getting a F1 drive. My debut Formula Nippon season this year has been a steep learning curve but with the experience gained, I aim to do that in 2001 by challenging for the Formula Nippon championship."

"It is very important to me that a team respect me as a driver and will work with me to achieve the success that we want. You cannot get this respect "buying" your way into a team." said Yoong.

"It wouldn't be too late even if it takes me to 2002 for me to get into Formula 1 as the average age of an F1 debut by the last 17 world champions of the modern Formula 1 era starting from Jackie Stewart who won the world championship in 1965 is 26 and I would be 26 then."

Two world champions of the 90s, Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill made their F1 debut in 1980 and 1992 at ages 27 and 32 respectively. Briton Mansell won the world championship in 1992 at age 39 while Hill won it in 1996 at age 36."

Other modern era world champions who made their F1 debut above the average age are Mario Andretti at age 28, Alan Jones age 29 and Keke Rosberg age 30. Those world champions who had their first Formula 1 drive at the age of 26 are Jackie Stewart, the late James Hunt and Nelson Piquet.

"It's nice to hear Button say that I'm a good driver. Five years ago most Malaysians thought I've been crazy chasing a Formula 1 dream but look at where I am now, doing Formula Nippon with a very good outfit like LeMans is already a great recognition for a Malaysian who is "crazy". It is also remarkable and heartening that with my pursuit, there are now so many young Malaysians who say they want to become a Formula 1 driver and they don't sound crazy anymore. I am happy for this change of attitude to pursue the highest in motor sport by Malaysians."

Alex paid tribute to Button that "I think he will be a world champion within the next 5 years. Button is an extremely affable and talented person. It is very rare for such a driver to emerge, only maybe once or twice in every ten years of Formula 1. I got to know him racing in the British Formula 3 in last year, nothing worries him."

Commenting on being "at the right place at the right time" by Button, Alex too totally agrees with this observation. "Look at it this way, what Button meant is that there are so many equally capable and talented drivers who would make it to F1 given the right opportunity at the right time. Many have missed the boat by either having chosen the wrong team or the wrong championship for any particular time. I am lucky to have the support of the Japanese and Malaysian fraternity and the contributions from Japan Race Promotion and the LeMans Company will be crucial, I believe, to place me at that right spot at the right time."

After having won two second podium honors in British F3 and Italian F3000 last year, Alex had been running amongst the top half of the Formula Nippon championship with two 9th finishes. In the last race round 9 at Mine Alex qualified 7th on the grid and was en-rout to a top 6 points finish when his car's brake master pump failed. He aims to round up the Formula Nippon championship with a top six points finish result.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jenson Button , Nigel Mansell , Jackie Stewart , Alex Yoong , Mario Andretti , Alan Jones , Damon Hill , Nelson Piquet , James Hunt
Teams Williams