Minardi Team SpA
|Based in: Faenza, Italy|
Founded: 1972 (active 1985-2005)
Managing director: Giancarlo Minardi (1985-2000), Paul Stoddart (2001-2005)
Minnow, grid-filler, a David among Goliaths.
These are all terms that have been used to describe Giancarlo Minardi's Formula One operation. Giancarlo knows he will never be an Enzo Ferrari or Frank Williams, but in his chest beats the heart of a true racer and it is that approach to the sport that has makes Grand Prix enthusiasts look upon the tiny Italian team with nothing but affection.
From a base near his Fiat dealership in Faenza, Minardi began running cars in Formula 2 with a Chevron chassis and a Ferrari engine. He has always had close ties with Maranello and in 1976 fielded an ex-works F1 Ferrari in Scuderia Everest colours. He became a constructor in his own right in 1980 building an F2 chassis to be driven by Alessandro Nannini.
The move to F1 came in 1985 when Minardi fielded just a single car, driven by Pierluigi Martini. The first two races were run under Ford power but this was the age of the turbo so by the time San Marino came along Minardi was packing a Motori Moderni engine. It was useless and poort Martini was panned for being out of his depth although the blame for his failure rests solely with the car. For 1986 Minardi put two cars on the track, driven by Alessandro Nannini and Andrea de Cesaris. They fared little better.
In 1988, when the difficult Motori Moderni turbo engine was abandoned in favour of a Ford V8, things finally started looking up.
Martini scored the team's first points in Detroit in his first outing for the team since the disastrous '85 adventure, but Minardi's best season to date was 1993 - Fabrizio Barbazza and Christian Fittipaldi scoring seven points. 1994 saw Minardi merging its interests with Beppe Lucchini's BMS Scuderia Italia outfit. Despite limited finances, and a continual lack of top class engines, Minardi has frequently produced well-handling chassis, and shown the potential to move up the grid.
The team was taken over by a consortium of Italian businessmen including Flavio Briatore and Alessandro Nannini at the end of 1996, putting it on an even financial footing. Driver Ukyo Katayama brought additional sponsorship from Japanese cigarette company Mild Seven for 1997 and, in a surprise move, promising Italian rookie Jarno Trulli was signed for the second seat.
A more secure financial base and Hart engines promised much, but the team lost the services of Trulli when he replaced Olivier Panis at Prost, and struggled with a spate of engine failures. 1998 began with Ford V10 power and the inexperienced pay-drivers Esteban Tuero and Shinji Nakano few expected much from Italy's other team. As the years advanced, Minardi was rumoured to be in financial trouble and kept on going low profile with drivers who payed for their seats.
At the latter stages of the 2000 season the team had announced that Rumi - who suffered health problems - had sold his stakes in the Minardi team to Gaston Mazzacane's personal sponsor PSN. However as PSN found out the true costs of running such an operation they swiftly pulled out of the deal leaving Minardi without an owner, an engine or drivers. However, just as it appeared that all hope had faded, someone bought into the team, Paul Stoddart. The Australian put his Airline company "European" on the black Minardi and vowed to make it to the 2001 grid. In order to make it though, the team had to use the ageing Ford V10 and a slightly modified 2000 chassis.
Nontheless the financial problems, Minardi introduced a new 19 year old talented driver, namely Fernando Alonso. Unfortunately Gustav Brunner, Minardi's technical director decided to leave the Faenza based squad after almost four years in favour of the new Toyota F1 team. In addition to that Minardi's former owner Gabriele Rumi lost his battle against cancer and died on the 22nd of May.
After that it never got any better with vastly slower cars than the competition. The team also launched Mark Webber who also appeared to be a very talented man.
Only in 2005 Minardi was able to step forward as it was able to equalise with the Jordan team. However still a backmarker, the Minardi PS05 proved to be an accomplishment. It was somehow a positive end for the team as in October Red Bull announced to have bought the team to rename it to Scuderia Toro Rosso.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Minardi M189||1989 - 1990|