It’s been a while since I posted anything. Been busy with lots of other stuff in life. But I do have lots to share with you guys, and I hope I can do it regularly!
This weekend is the F1 Malaysian Grand Prix that’s held at the Sepang International Circuit. For the uninitiated, it is a motorsport race track in Sepang, Selangor. It is located near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, approximately 45 km south of the capital city Kuala Lumpur. And because of this weekend’s race (and also I’m a proud Malaysian hee hee) I want to share with you guys a scale model of the Minardi F1 car that Malaysia’s first Formula One driver, Alex Yoong drove.
Until the arrival of Malaysia’s Alex Yoong at Minardi in 2001, the only Asian Formula 1 driver not to come from Japan had been Thai Prince Birabongse in the 1950s. Yoong had decent results in lower classes of motor racing, and soon Alex had his sight firmly set on Formula 1. It also helped that he was backed by sponsorship from Magnum Corporation and the strong support given by the Malaysian government, particularly the Ministry of Youths and Sports. And finally, in 2001 Alex became the first Malaysian in Formula One! For observers at the time, the move came quite sudden when Minardi boss Paul Stoddart announced that he had a deal with Yoong for the final three races of the season (no doubt cash-strapped Minardi were tempted by the money Magnum Corporation were giving them, hence quickly stuffing Alex in for the last three races!) For those final three races he replaced star so Marques, and did quite well, given the mediocre machinery handed to him...albeit outshined by his teammate, an unknown Spanish bugger named Fernando Alonso. Surprisingly, Alex, not Fernando (who it must be said did show speed and racecraft that belied his young age) had secured the second seat alongside then unknown Aussie Mark Webber for 2002. Again, as in 2001, Alex struggled against Mark just as he did against Fernando. The entire 2002 season wasn’t spectacular, but in his brief F1 career, Alex Yoong’s best result would be a 7th spot at Melbourne, during the opening race of the 2002 season. Back then only the top 6 places got points. Had he been racing in the late 2000s he would’ve been the first Malaysian to score points in Formula One!
He wasn’t retained for 2003 due to performance and also the sponsorship money ran out. Alright....enough history lesson; back to the main item! This model that I have is from Minichamps (Paul’s Model Art). As you know, they are one of the best modellers of replica Formula One and car models. This Minardi is not the exact 2002 model, but rather it is a “showcar”. It’s actually a 2001 Minardi PS01 repainted to resemble the 2002 KL Minardi Asiatech that Alex Yoong drove to a fine 7th place in Melbourne. I would have liked to get the real 2002 chassis instead of the showcar, but it was the only one left and it was cheap, so I had to have myself a piece of Malaysian F1 history.
He may not have been the next Ayrton or Michael, but considering his poor car he had at his disposal he was never going to set the world alight. Alex Yoong already by getting a race seat in the highest level in motorsport has done what most drivers would only dream about. I’m immensely proud of him.
For those who follow F1, don’t miss the race later on!
Till next time, ciao!