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Team Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
13/01/2018


Christijan
Albers

Robert
Doornbos

Team Biography

 

Giancarlo Minardi ran a lucrative truck dealership in Italy and, in the late 1970s, he began to enter March cars in Formula Two. For 1980 he took the plunge and commissioned a new design from the Fly Studio, which was run by ex-Ferrari engineers, Caliri and Marmiroli. Until the end of 1984, when Formula Two gave way to Formula 3000.

During 1984, Giamcomo Caliri left the Fly Studio to join Minardi. He designed a car for Formula One which, if necessary, could be adapted to F3000. Minardi had hoped to use an Alfa Romeo engine, but the scenario changed when Carlo Chiti and Alfa Romeo parted company. Chiti established a new company, Motori Moderni and one of the shareholders in the new venture was Gianpiero Mancini, who was also Minardi's partner.

Minardi used Motori Moderni V6 turbocharged engines between 1985 and 1987. The first car, the M85, was overweight and underpowered, but at least it could qualify for most races even though its highest, and only, finish was 14th.

It was not until 1988, running with DFR engines that Minardi scored its first point. During that year, Caliri left to be replaced as chief designer by Aldo Costa.

The switch to Cosworth engines brought a marked upturn in reliability and Minardi was often in a position to pick up the odd points finish though, at the time of writing, it has yet to gain a podium finish. Minardi's best season was 1993, when the team scored seven points, though in 1991 it was placed seventeenth in the Constructors' Championship, its highest finish, with six points.

Minardi merged with Beppe Lucchini, of Scuderia Italia, in 1994. Since then, the gap between top teams and those at the back has grown ever wider. Minardi's achievement is that it has survived when so many other projects which have appeared in Formula One since 1985, have folded.

The team has never looked like winning even one podium position, on the other hand, it can be relied on to turn up, be smartly presented and to qualify. That in itself is a small victory.

At the end of 2000 Australian businessman Paul Stoddart bought a large slice of the popular Italian team, keen to take the outfit forward but without losing the passion.

Despite Stoddart's injection of management nous and funding, Minardi are still struggling on the sort of money that other teams spend on corporate entertaining. The news that Minardi are to use Asiatech engines in 2002 is hardly going to cause Williams, McLaren and Ferrari to lose sleep, however in Mark Webber and Alex Yoong, Stoddart has the makings of something special.

Since Formula One has, in recent years, moved towards a franchise system similar to that which operated in CART, the principals of this little team have at least built it into a valuable asset. There may come a day when a major manufacturer wishes to enter Formula One, finds all available spaces filled, and decides that a partnership with Minardi is a very attractive proposition could it be that Stoddart is merely biding his time?

3 March 2002 was a day of mixed emotions for Melbourne boy, and Minardi boss, Paul Stoddart. On the one hand he was fit to bust a blood vessel over the news that Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw was seeking to secure the, now defunct, Prost team's TV money, while on the other hand his driver Mark Webber had just taken an emotional fifth on his GP debut, and in his home race.

Sadly it was the highlight of a poor year, with Stoddart usually in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Alex Yoong was clearly way out his depth and having failed to qualify for a couple of races was 'rested' in favour of Anthony Davidson for two Grand Prix late in the season. Matters were hardly helped when the Italian team had to withdraw from the Spanish GP following a couple of front wing failures in practice. Mark Webber did the best he could but the popular Aussie was never again to reach the dizzy heights of that wonderful March afternoon.

As a result of the worldwide recession, coupled with a poor season of racing, F1 was hit hard as TV viewers and subsequently sponsors cooled towards the sport, teams such as Minardi were the first to feel the pain.

For 2003 Stoddart recruited talented newcomer Justin Wilson and placed him alongside the highly popular Dutch charger Jos Verstappen.

It was a disappointing season, the best result being Jos' ninth in Canada. Following Jaguar's dumping of Antonio Pizzonia after Silverstone, Wilson joined the Milton Keynes outfit, with young Dane Nicolas Kiesa taking his place.

After the relative high of 2002 - and make no mistake, two points is a high for Minardi - 2003 was a season of utter disappointment for the Italian team.

In 2004, the team still faced financial hardship, and consequently, once again, pay drivers were the answer. Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner, who had previously contested two races for Jordan in 2003, was brought in, as was former Euro3000 racer Gianmaria Bruni, who had acted as test driver for the Faenza outfit in 2003.

It was another long, hard season, the one consolation being Baumgartner's sole point at Indianapolis.

However, the team's joy was soon cut short, when Sporting Director John Walton suffered a fatal heart attack, just days before the British Grand Prix.

The team's grief was all too apparent, but sadly it was to have dire consequences. At Silverstone the team ran with special decals in memory of 'John Boy' Walton, having removed all other sponsorship signage from the car. Sponsor 'Wilux' took exception at having its logos removed and subsequently ended its agreement with the team - even though we now know that the company was well behind with its payments anyway.

The PS04 basically summed up Minardi in 2004, it was a bastardized car, put together with bits of the old Arrows A23 - which Stoddart had acquired - and the 'best' bits of the PS03.

Looking ahead to 2005, things do seem a little brighter, indeed many are predicting that the Italian team could finish ahead of Jordan and even Red Bull (nee Jaguar).

The driver line-up is the strongest we've seen for some time with Patrick Friesacher joining Christijan Albers. These are two young chargers, typical of the 'Minardi School of Talent'.

Furthermore, although the team is starting the season with the 2004 car, the PS05 is described as radical, while great things are expected of the Cosworth.

Though we don't expect to see the Italian team battling with the Saubers and Toyotas, far less the other Italian team, the drivers, Cosworth and even the new rules, could result in some surprises.

Let's hope so. Surely no one would begrudge the Faenza team its share of the glory.

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