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Fauzy aiming to emulate countryman Yoong 23 Feb 2007

Fairuz Fauzy (MAL) Spyker F8-VII Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, Day Two, Monday 20 February 2007. World © Sutton

Fairuz Fauzy made a little bit of history for Spyker earlier this week when he became only the second Malaysian driver to have a run in a Formula One car. He follows in the footsteps of famous compatriot Alex Yoong, who started 18 Grands Prix for Minardi back in 2001-2.

In his rookie run in Spain on Tuesday Fauzy completed enough laps to qualify for an FIA Superlicence, so the 24-year-old from Kuala Lumpur is now eligible to take part in Friday practice on Grands Prix weekends. He is thus another step closer to realising his dream of one day sitting on the Formula One grid at Sepang.

Malaysia’s role in international motorsport was given a massive boost when the country held its first Grand Prix back in 1999. The timing was perfect for Fauzy, who was just approaching his 17th birthday, and had enjoyed a successful career in karting in Asia.

Interest in motorsport in his home country was on the rise, and in 2000 he was able to travel to the UK to contest the Formula Ford championship. He subsequently became a familiar face at British circuits, moving up to Formula Renault in 2001 and F3 in 2003-2004, where he showed some promise by earning a second place.

In 2005 he moved up to the ultra-competitive world of GP2, initially with the DAMS team before moving to Super Nova last year. He also joined forces with Yoong to represent his country in A1 GP. Now his new testing deal with Spyker is the start of what he hopes will be an eventual climb to the top rung of the sport.

“I have to thank the government of Malaysia and all my sponsors for helping to get me here,” Fauzy told Spyker’s official website. “I’ve been aiming for F1, and it’s my dream to be here. I’m very proud to be part of the Spyker team, and I’m looking forward to working with them this year.

“I’m only the second Malaysian in F1, and hopefully more people will become interested. I hope to build that momentum for Malaysia and the Asian region. This year it’s ‘Visit Malaysia’ year, and it’s 50 years of independence. So it’s good for the country to have another driver in F1 now.”

Fairuz had a tough time in GP2, where he found himself up against bright young talents like Nico Rosberg, Heikki Kovalainen, Lewis Hamilton and Nelson Piquet Jr. With limited testing it wasn’t easy to make a good impression in such a closely-fought category.

“It was very, very competitive, and I was quite frustrated,” he said. “Last year I didn’t have very good results, but I just wanted to find out where my pace was. I did a test at Paul Ricard and found out there was nothing wrong. You just need to have the right people around you. The team is one thing, but in motor racing the engineers and people are really important.”

This year he’s making a sideways move to the World Series by Renault, where he will drive for the Cram Competition team, combining racing with his Formula One testing commitments for Spyker.

“It’s something different,” he said. “The series is good for racing, because you have 30 cars on the grid, and there are drivers like (BMW Sauber tester) Sebastian Vettel. I think it’s quite good competition, and it will keep me racing.”

Moving out of GP2 also means Fauzy will have more chance of driving on Grand Prix Fridays, because it’s almost impossible to do both on the same weekend. Although Spyker has yet to finalise its Friday plans for the season, he would obviously love to have a run in at Sepang in April.

“The team will decide when I drive, but driving in front of my home crowd would be something different,” he said. “It’s very difficult to put into words, but I hope I get the opportunity!”