Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daim's gunning to be S'pore's first Formula 1 driver

He's 11, and is Singapore's brightest motor racing prospect.

Daim Hishammudin dreams of becoming the first Singaporean to pilot a Formula 1 car.

His father Hishammudin Hassan is now looking to arrange a meeting with the Ministry of Defence to discuss his future National Service schedule."I want Daim to drive under the Singapore flag because we are Singaporeans," said the 40-year-old Nestle senior manager, who has been based in Kuala Lumpur with his family since 2004."I have to sit down with Mindef very soon as Daim must serve NS when he is 18. That age is prime for any sportsmen and a break in his regimen could have dire consequences. My discussion with Mindef will point the way for Daim.

"With hordes of drivers all over the world setting their sights on Formula 1, competition for the handful of seats that open up every year is extremely keen.

Those who do get the nod are usually in their late teens or early 20s. That would obviously affect Daim if he is in NS.

He first made his mark in 2008 when he won Malaysia's Yamaha SL Cup for young rookie karters. Later that year, he resolved to become a Formula 1 driver after meeting McLaren-Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton before the inaugural SingTel Singapore Grand Prix. The youngster received valuable tips from the Englishman, who went on to win the world championship. In 2009, the Singaporean raised his stock when he clinched the Malaysia Challenge and the Rotax Asia Max kart series for 8 to 12-year-olds.Earlier this month, Malaysia's former Formula 1 driver, Alex Yoong, signed Daim to drive for his karting team, Axle Motorsport. He will compete in the Yamaha SL Cup Series across the Causeway and the Asian Karting Open Championship. Yoong also has plans to take him to Europe for competition.

The youngster's talent has caught the eye of a corporate giant in Malaysia, who want to finance his racing career. The announcement of the deal with the young driver will be made here on Wednesday.Said Daim: "I want to race in Formula 1 and I have been training hard for this. I am more than prepared to give all my time up for racing to get there. "But my dream is to race for Singapore and I want to do National Service because I think it will be quite fun.

"Dad Hishammudin wants to work with Mindef to find a way for his son to fulfil his NS obligations without disrupting his racing career."I spent the first seven years of my working life as a professional soldier and an officer in the SAF and I loved every minute of it. I believe very strongly that every male Singaporean should do National Service," he said."For now I have some ideas based on my own experience in the army because I believe at this moment in time Singapore and Mindef are ready to recognise contributions (from athletes), because we do want to excel in sports."

Ian De Cotta

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