Friday July 6th, 2001
Malaysian Formula One hopeful Alexander Yoong did his chances of landing a Grand Prix drive a power of good today, as he put in an impressive performance while testing for Minardi at the Mugello circuit.
During the course of yesterday and today, the 24-year-old from Kuala Lumpur ran for a total of 67 laps – a Grand Prix distance – and steadily reduced his times. His best lap was 1:29.99, compared to Patrick Lemarie's time - the fastest of the day - of 1:27.009.
"Alex has genuinely done an excellent job during this test," Minardi chief Paul Stoddart stated. "He has been as cool as a cucumber throughout, has not made any mistakes, and has worked well with the team's engineers. Most importantly, though, his lap times have dropped progressively with each run, indicating that he is getting to grips with the car and the circuit – something that is the sign of a good driver. I think all of the European Minardi F1 personnel present in Mugello have been both pleased and impressed with Alex's approach to the job and with his quick progress."
"It really has been an incredibly good experience," Yoong himself commented. "I drove for 47 laps today and every time I went out, I went quicker. I was quite pleased with my best lap, but I feel I can go even quicker with a bit more acclimatisation.
"The main thing from my perspective was to get to grips with left-foot braking. By the end of the day, I was feeling a lot more comfortable with it, although I was still being quite cautious – there is certainly more to come. Physically, I haven't had any problems.
"There are a lot of fast corners at Mugello, the track is quite bumpy and the car didn’t have a power-steering system fitted, so you definitely feel the forces through your neck and shoulders. Even so, I could have done more laps without difficulty.
"I have always dreamed of driving a Formula One car, and could only imagine what the power, the downforce and the braking must be like. Now I know, and it is every bit as exciting as I expected. I have really enjoyed the experience and, once again, must thank the Magnum Corporation for its support and assistance with this test programme."
Published at 23:42:43 GMT