Jakarta’s South East Asia Games might be the last place one would expect to associate with Formula 1, but former Minardi driver Alex Yoong has won three medals in the Games, notably in the field of waterskiing.
The Malaysian was a national champion water-skier before he turned to four-wheeled competition, having last competed on the water in the mid-1990s.
The 35-year-old claimed two silver medals in the men’s slalom and jumping competitions, and then backed this up by winning gold in the overall waterskiing title.
It was a great event for the Yoong family, with Alex’s sister Philippa claiming gold at the the women’s slalom. Incredibly, their eight-year-old (!) half-sister, Aaliyah, won the tricks event, become the youngest ever winner in SEA Games history.
Yoong became Malaysia’s first F1 driver in 2001 when he made his Grand Prix debut for the Minardi team, staying 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 won four races between 2005-8.
Alex now works with Team Lotus in the driver development programme, as well as commentating with ESPN.
[Image via MediaCorp Press]