Despite having retired from the sport, local racing legend Alex Yoong is still a household name in Malaysia.
The 44-year-old put Malaysia on the map when he became the first Malaysian to ever race in the Formula 1 circuit.
That may sound like a dream for many, but for Yoong, his stint in arguably the most glamourous motor racing sport proved to be quite damaging to his career.
Not a bed of roses
In 2001, Yoong was offered a seat by the Minardi F1 team, racing alongside former F1 champ Fernando Alonso.
He managed to keep his seat for the 2002 season, and despite some poor performances due in part to bad qualifying times, mechanical and car issues, Yoong managed to finish seventh in the Australian Grand Prix - his best ever finish in a Formula 1 race.
His F1 stint soon came to an end as Minardi decided not to retain him following that season, but it turns out, that two-year stint damaged his entire career as well.
In a telling interview titled 'Passion to Prefession' published by The Motorsports People
, Yoong detailed how his Formula 1 stint affected his racing career as a whole.
#1 He had to look for his own sponsors
With big Formula 1 teams, sponsors are aplenty and sometimes they come in droves. For the Minardi F1 team, however, that wasn't the case.
According to Yoong, even though he was offered a seat, Minardi wanted him to look for his own sponsors.
“The life of a motor racing driver is you have to learn how to find your own sponsorship, because no one is going to do it for you,” he said in the interview.
#2 Financial difficulties all around
As the sponsors were not exactly lining up to throw cash at Minardi, the team was often cash strapped.
And when that happens, a lot of the processes were disrupted, including the testing of the car - which Yoong said he did very little of.
"In those days, people were testing every week. We had no money, and the promise of testing evaporated very quickly," Yoong said.
#3 Limited testing time
And because they had no money, the team had limited time to test the cars.
How little? Well, according to Yoong, it was just two days of testing - the entire Formula 1 season!
"The whole year, I only did two days of testing. You’re only in the car, other in the race weekend, I was only in the race car for two days,” he said.
As such, Yoong felt that his short-lived stint in Formula 1 had a negative impact on his career.
“Formula 1 damaged my career in many ways. Because, we were always at the back and we didn’t had success," he was quoted in the interview as saying.
He added that after his foray in Formula 1, he had try to rebuild his career in America and Australia, but the same problems he had with the Minardi F1 team followed him everywhere he went.
Interestingly, Yoong also said during the interview that the whole Formula 1 dream had also ruined the motorsports business in Malaysia.
You can check out the full interview here: