Minardi

Discussion in 'Teams' started by the_roadie, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    Teams that have been in F1 but aren't any more are legion, the record books are strewn with long-discarded F1 team names.

    Teams that have succeeded in F1 but aren't here any more are much thinner on the ground, Lotus, Maserati and Brabham are a few examples.
    Such teams are remembered, talked about, and figure in everyday conversation, at least among petrolheads "of a certain age".

    There are other teams that have been in F1, aren't here any more, but despite a lack of achievement (wins, WDCs and WCCs) have nevertheless made an impact.
    This isn't a thread devoted to heroic failures, however, it's about celebrating that some teams seem to put a lot more back into F1 than they ever took out, and prime among that ever so rare breed has to be Minardi.

    Their record in F1 amounts to 21 seasons, no WDCs, no WCCs, and 38 points from 345 races, although to be absolutely fair that was in the days when only the top 6 drivers got points, not like today when you get 25 for a win and you can almost get a point just for turning up.

    Here are some examples.

    Team Ethic.
    Minardi was always regarded as one of the "nicest" teams for so many reasons. They were noticeably "uncorporate" in that they had what amounts to an open door policy when it came to their dealings with other teams, journalists, commentators, the paddock in general and their fans who, though never facing the prospect of celebrating a WDC, were nevertheless intensely loyal and committed in a very personal way, something that teams such as Ferrari (Tifosi excepted because they're all mad anyway justifiably fanatical) and McLaren can only really achieve as long as they keep winning, and that RedBull are unlikely to achieve for many years, if they even last that long in F1 which is debatable.

    There's also anecdotal evidence that Minardi had the best espresso in F1!
    (And if that doesn't nail it I don't know what will !!)

    Drivers.
    Some Minardi Old Boys names you may recognize - Alonso and Webber (who scored a rare 5th place for Minardi and 2pts on his Minardi and F1 debut in his home GP) are still towards the front of the rankings and today's grids, Trulli and Fisichella are still very much in living memory among those with even the shortest F1 memories. All of these, as well as being Minardi Old boys, are also GP winners.
    Other well-known Minardi drivers (in absolutely no order whatsoever) include Pierluigi Martini, Alex Zanardi, Christian Fittipaldi, Pedro Lamy, Luca Badoer, Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson, Zsolt Baumgartner (the first Hungarian driver ever to score F1 points, and for Minardi!), Michele Alboreto, and Jos Verstappen.

    Adrian Campos and Luiz Perez-Sala both drove for Minardi in 1988 - I wonder what became of them? ;)
    (OK, crib sheet time, Campos founded what is now HRT and Perez-Sala became Team Principal of HRT this season)

    Among other Minardi Old Boys, Aldo Costa was Technical Director from 1989 to 1995. He later went on to become Designer and Technical Director at Ferrari (1995-2011) and is now Engineering Director at Mercedes GP.

    At one point Minardi set (and still hold) the record of having the only all-Dutch driver pairing in F1 with Christijan Albers and Robert Doornbos (famously referred to by Martin Brundle in commentary as "door knobs") in their (final) 2005 season.

    Cars.
    For a privateer team with pathetic money of their own and not exacly a surplus of sponsors Minardi managed to make cars that outperformed their budgets. So often they were out of the points (when only six drivers got them), but equally so often far higher than their last-place budget should have merited.
    They were the first F1 team in the modern era to make use of customer engines, Ferrari in 1991, switching to V12 Lamborghini mills in 1992.


    Controversies.
    At one point (in 1996) they were part co-owned by Flavio Briatore. Least said about that the better, after all, it was only one year !

    Indianapolisgate (US Grand Prix 2005).
    Michelin runners were unable to run because Michelin had, not to mince words, brought the wrong tyres to the meeting. FP and Quali had been a mess and Michelin had had to withdraw their certification that their tyres were safe to race, so by the time the race itself came only the Bridgestone runners were fit to race.
    (The entire catalogue of cock-ups and counter-cockups you can read for yourself if you have a spare evening!)
    That left Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi able to race on Bridgestones.
    All the other (Michelin-shod) teams had agreed that to avoid legal ramifications they would complete the formation lap (thereby legally starting the race therefore avoiding being sued) and then immediately pit for (perfectly understandable) safety reasons.
    In solidarity, Jordan (Eddie) and Minardi (Paul Stoddart) had agreed that they too would pit all their drivers after the formation lap thereby leaving Ferrari on their own in the mire alongside FIA and FOM who between them were blamed for not selecting any one of half a dozen suitable and safe alternatives that would have allowed the race to carry on in full.
    However as Ferrari lined up in their gridslots and Michelin runners pitted, Jordan inexplicably failed to pit as agreed (a rare lapse of judgement on Eddie's part), therefore Stoddart felt, justifiably, that to avoid unfairly losing Concorde Agreement prize money to Jordan, his drivers had to line up for the start as well. The rest is history. Personally my abiding memory is of Stoddart being the only player to come out of that distasteful episode with any credit at all.

    Politics.
    Stoddart was a vociferous campaigner among team principals and punched considerably above his weight, often seemingly adopting positions in public that principals of more successful teams were loath to commit to publicly, frequently calling for the removal of Max Mosley from the FIA, and arguing for what we now know as the RRA ("Resource Restriction Agreement" or level playing field).
    He also argued for independent teams to be able to buy cheaper engines in return for supporting the works teams in opposing unpopular rule changes proposed by the FIA, such as the proposed ban on traction control (2004).

    Heirs and Successors.
    Minardi left F1 at the end of the 2005 season, but Stoddart achieved his aim of selling the team to whoever (out of apparently 41 potential buyers) would
    a) be able to take the team forward and
    b) keep them based in Faenza, in Italy.
    Step forward Red Bull, who bought the team and renamed it ToroRosso, with the aim of running it as RedBull's rookie team, whose first F1 points were scored by Liuzzi, and whose first pole, podium and victory were scored by a young chap called Sebastian Vettel (Italy 2008).
    They're still based in Stoddart and Minardi's base in Faenza, Italy.

    The Minardi name may no longer adorn a F1 garage but with Webber (by rights) and Vettel (by grandfather rights) their influence lingers on.
     
    Olivier, GermanF1, MCLS and 11 others like this.
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  3. RasputinLives

    RasputinLives Happy to be me again Contributor

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    I can't believe Max turned down Stoddart's application to being the great Minardi (all be it European Minardi) name back to the grid TWICE when so many F1 fans have such a love for them.

    Great article Roadie!
     
  4. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    Thank you.
     
  5. teabagyokel

    teabagyokel #dejavu Valued Member

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    I think it is fair to say that I won't be the only person to wish Minardi was still around. It is sad that commercial constraints made the team unsustainable.

    However, it is nice that the Minardi staff were able to enjoy their day-of-days at Monza in 2008.
     
  6. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    In connection with the current climate and endless bitching about driver status (which I freely admit to being part of in several F1 forums), I should have added in the OP that Minardi were noted for not using pay-drivers, even though their financial situation was at best "survivable" rather than "comfortable".
    To my mind that's another '+1' to them, going for the best you can afford rather than compromising principles just for a few quid/dollars/euros/ or whatever else is in the brown envelope!
     
  7. teabagyokel

    teabagyokel #dejavu Valued Member

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    Stoddart used a few pay drivers admittedly, they had the farce of Chanoch Nissany doing a Friday session, and I think Alex Yoong came with significant backing. But I agree, it is a general "+1" to a team to attempt to recruit on talent; they were there to go racing!
     
  8. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    Quite right TBY - same team, different shirt (and a new badge is only 50p !)
     
    teabagyokel likes this.
  9. Galahad

    Galahad Not a Moderator Valued Member

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    Nice to have a thread for Minardi at last, and such a well-written one too! :)

    Like most F1 fans of that period I had a very soft spot for Minardi, particularly in the Giancarlo/Gabriele Rumi era. They punched way above their weight and brought through so many quality drivers from the junior formulae.

    Wasn't quite so keen on Stoddart to be honest, a man with so little to shout about making a hell of a lot of noise would be one way of putting it. But fortunately he didn't ruin things and the spirit lives on within Toro Rosso, at least in terms of driver development.

    It pains me to point this out but:
    21 I think?
     
  10. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    That was today's deliberate error, Galahad, and you the the prize for spotting it - well done!

    Or, if you didn't like that, I'm sorry for the display of fat-finger syndrome.

    One of those two should cover it, take your pick !
     
  11. Mephistopheles

    Mephistopheles Banned Contributor

    Great article the_roadie and I must admit I miss Minardi they were indeed a great little team and showed what was best about F1 and many a great driver got their chance in F1 because of them...
     
  12. ZakspeedYakspeed

    ZakspeedYakspeed NeverUnderestimateThePredictabilityOfStupidity Premium Contributor

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    Great article... thanks Mephistopheles for posting today otherwise I would have missed it...

    Pierluigi Martini... I believe Murray Walker once called him a mobile chicane back in '85... ended up being a handy driver
     
  13. Bill Boddy

    Bill Boddy Professional layabout Premium Contributor

    We were walking round the circuit at Hockenheim after the race in 2008 when a Toro Rosso transporter came past. I pulled off my Minardi cap and waved it at the driver. In return I got a big grin, a wave and a toot on the horn, he obviously still thought the team was still Minardi.

    Shortly after that I made the decision not to go to Monza that year, I was pleased that they won but a bit miffed that I wasn't there to see it.
     
    ZakspeedYakspeed and GermanF1 like this.
  14. Johnny Carwash

    Johnny Carwash Champion Elect Contributor

    There was something about Minardi that i just loved. I think it was the fact that they kept hanging in there year after year at the back of the grid and still giving 100%. One of the best memories for me about Minardi was Mark Webber getting a 5th place for them on his F1 debut in 2002. If only some of the big manufacturing names like Toyota, Jaguar, and Honda had half as much determination as Minardi then they would have been much more successful.
     
    MCLS, the_roadie, Josh and 5 others like this.
  15. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    Johnny Carwash that's a good observation, the more so because it's so depressingly true.
     
  16. Bill Boddy

    Bill Boddy Professional layabout Premium Contributor

    Don't forget that Minardi had the reputation of making the best coffee on the grid and of handing it out to all comers.
     
  17. the_roadie

    the_roadie Banned

    Bill Boddy I mentioned the espresso being said to be the best in F1 but I wasn't aware that it was available to all passers-by !
     
  18. Bill Boddy

    Bill Boddy Professional layabout Premium Contributor

    There aren't many passers by in the pit lane apart from the teams.:D
     
    gethinceri likes this.

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