Former Minardi F1 driver Alex Yoong will today be celebrating his 36th birthday!
The Malaysian was a national water-skiing champion before he turned to four-wheeled competition in the mid-1990s.
With his passage to F1 assisted by a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal from the Malaysian government, Alex stayed on for the 2002 season as well.
Never given equal equipment to team-mate Mark Webber, he was unfairly portrayed as little more than a pay-driver, and was dropped for two races after he failed to qualify for the British and German Grands Prix. His best finish was seventh at the attrition-hit Australian Grand Prix, in which team-mate Webber finished fifth.
Post-F1, he competed briefly in the CART and V8 Supercars series’, before fronting Malaysia’s entry in the now-defunct A1GP championship, in which he impressively won four races between 2005-8.
Alex now works with Team Lotus in the driver development programme, as well as commentating with ESPN. More recently, he returned to competition back on the waterskis, winning the gold medal in the overall waterskiing competition at last year’s South East Asian Games.
[Images via A1GP Team Malaysia, Forix, LAT, Minardi, Motorsport.com, The Cahier Archive, V8 Supercars, WPS Racing]