PENANG: Malaysians who stayed up late to watch Fernando Alonso bag the Canadian Grand Prix title on television last week would not have realised that the world champion was racing in a Malaysian-designed car.
Not the car itself, but the blue and white artwork livery on both Alonso and teammate Giancarlo Fisichella's Renaults was 100% made in Malaysia.
The “keris” motif on the Mild Seven Renault Team cars was created by 29-year-old Yazid Yusof.
The keris artwork was chosen as the winner of the “7aste The Art Of Renault F1 Contest” held recently to pick a new design for the Renault F1 cars.
For his win, the graphic designer from Kuala Lumpur won an all-expenses paid trip to Montreal to witness Alonso and Fisichella race in the Canadian Grand Prix 2006 in the newly designed vehicles.
“I only entered the contest by accident as I stumbled upon the website while browsing the web one night.
“I had a few ideas in my mind but only submitted the keris design as I felt that I would not stand a chance in such a prestigious competition. I was shocked to learn that I had won,” said Yazid, a self-confessed motor racing fan who has not missed a single F1 race in Sepang since 1999.
When asked why he chose the keris, Yazid explained: “It is a mythical weapon steeped in Malaysian tradition and is associated with bravery.
“It suits the Renaults' current position at the forefront of F1 racing as a team which do not fear their opponents and are constantly charging forward,” added the Malaysian, who had also contemplated on batik, wayang kulit and wau bulan designs before settling on the keris.
It was a proud moment for Yazid, when the two cars bearing his design was unveiled to the international press photographers outside the Renault F1 team garage shortly before the official qualifying session.
Despite being a Ferrari and Michael Schumacher fan, Yazid was still beaming with joy as he was introduced to Alonso and Fisichella, and posed for photographs with the two drivers.
“It is a dream come true for me. Not only did I get to meet the world champion up close, but he won the race with the car that had my design on it.
“I feel proud to have contributed towards the race victory and consider myself very lucky for being allowed to be part of the Renault team here,” exclaimed an overjoyed Yazid after Alonso held off a late challenge from Schumacher to win in Canada for the first time.
Prior to the race, Alonso said he liked Yazid's design, as it showcased weaponry, which was consistent with the 24-year-old Spaniard's aggressive style of driving.
“I have always done well when there is a new design on the car. And I expect it to be the same here in Canada,” said Alonso.
The world champion remained true to his words as the mystical keris guided the Spaniard to his first victory at the jinxed Gilles Villeneuve circuit, where Renault have only finished once in the past six years.
Both the Renaults started on the front row of the grid but Fisichella was forced to settle for a fourth place finish after being penalised for a jump start.
To make it a more memorable event, Alonso's win also marked tyre makers Michelin's 100th Grand Prix victory.
Besides meeting the drivers, Yazid also had the opportunity to sit in the Renault garage throughout the qualifying session and to witness the start of the race proper from the pit lane.