Minardi F1 Team

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Minardi F1 Team

Post by Admin on Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:41 am

Minardi was an Italian automobile racing team and constructor founded in Faenza in 1979 by Giancarlo Minardi. It competed in the Formula One World Championship from 1985 until 2005 with little success, nevertheless acquiring a loyal following of fans. In 2001, to save the team from folding, Minardi sold it to Australian businessman Paul Stoddart, who ran the team for five years before selling it on to Red Bull in 2005 who renamed it Scuderia Toro Rosso.
During its time in F1, the team scored a total of 38 championship points; 16 of these were earned by the team's first driver, Pierluigi Martini. Martini also recorded the team's only front row start, qualifying 2nd at the 1990 United States Grand Prix, and he led a lap during the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix, the only time a Minardi led a lap. The team never achieved a podium finish, only managing three 4th-place finishes: Martini twice in 1991 and Christian Fittipaldi in 1993.
Before Minardi's demise, the team was a particularly well-liked team within Formula One circles for its friendliness, accessibility, and lack of corporate culture. On the track, their cars were regarded by many as well-designed for their tiny budget, their low position recognised as a result of a lack of funds (and engine power) rather than a poor car. They also resisted employing pay-drivers more than most other financially strapped teams.




History

The Minardi family has a longstanding involvement in motorsport. Giancarlo Minardi's grandfather had a Fiat dealership in Faenza since 1927, while his father, Giovanni Minardi, competed in his own cars in the late 1940s. After his death, Giancarlo took over the racing part of the family business. He ran customer cars in Formula Two under the name Scuderia Everest from 1972 to 1979 and in 1976 briefly ran a customer Formula One Ferrari 312T with Giancarlo Martini, uncle of Pierluigi Martini. Martini Sr. qualified 15th for the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch but failed to start the race after an accident during the opening lap. The team then competed at the BRDC International Trophy in Silverstone where Martini finished 10th. In 1979 Minardi received financial backing from well known Italian motor racing patron Piero Mancini and set up the Minardi racing team as a Formula Two constructor.




(1985–1993)

During 1984, Minardi took the decision to enter Formula One the following year. Caliri designed the M184, the team's prototype Formula One car (intended as a dual purpose design for the new Formula 3000) around Alfa Romeo's V8 turbocharged engine but when engineer Carlo Chiti left Alfa Romeo to found Motori Moderni, Minardi became the only customer for his new V6 engine design. The engine was not ready for the start of the 1985 season, so the team converted their M185 chassis to accept a Cosworth DFV engine for the first two races. The single car team was unsuccessful in its first year, scoring no points. The new engine was underpowered and driver Pierluigi Martini finished only two races, although he was also classified 11th at the German Grand Prix despite stopping with engine problems.[4] Martini's best position was 8th in the 1985 Australian Grand Prix, behind Huub Rothengatter in an Osella.
Nonetheless, the team expanded to two cars for the 1986 season. In 1988 Minardi switched to Cosworth engines, and in 1989 it became top entrant for Pirelli's return to Formula One. The team was moderately successful in the midfield through the late 1980s and early 1990s, giving a succession of Italian drivers their first chance at the top level, including Alessandro Nannini, Pierluigi Martini and Gianni Morbidelli. Martini in particular was synonymous with Minardi, eventually having three spells with the team. He drove for them on their debut in 1985, scored their first point in the 1988 United States Grand Prix, although he had been running 5th for quite a long time during the race until being passed by Tyrrell's Jonathan Palmer, took their only front-row start at 1990 USA Grand Prix (aided by special Pirelli tyres; several of their other drivers had surprise qualifying results that day), their only lap leading a race in the 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix, where he finished 4th, and scored their joint-best F1 result up to that point. (The other being at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix the very same year). In 1991 Minardi became the first team in modern times to make use of customer engines from Ferrari and in 1992 they used Lamborghini V12s. In 1993 Minardi enjoyed a good campaign, collecting seven points thanks to Christian Fittipaldi's fourth place in the 1993 South African Grand Prix and fifth place in the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix and Fabrizio Barbazza sixth places in the 1993 European Grand Prix and 1993 San Marino Grand Prix.




Minardi, Scuderia Italia and Fondmetal (1994–2000)

As the number of small teams shrank, Minardi slipped from the mid-field towards the back of the grid. Money woes hit and in 1994 Minardi joined his team with BMS Scuderia Italia in an effort to survive. Giancarlo Minardi retained 14.5% with the remaining 85.5% distributed between the Scuderia Italia investors (Emilio Gnutti, Giuseppe Lucchini and Vittorio Palazzani) and Defendente Marniga. In 1994 Martini finished 5th at both the 1994 Spanish Grand Prix and 1994 French Grand Prix, while Michele Alboreto scored his last point in Formula 1 with a 6th place in the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix. Acknowledging that the team was struggling, Bernie Ecclestone spoke to Flavio Briatore, who agreed to buy a share in the team in 1995. In 1996 Italian businessman Gabriele Rumi, former owner of the Fondmetal team switched his sponsorship support from Tyrrell to Minardi. He gradually increased his interest in the Faenza outfit, becoming co-owner and chairman. In 1997 Minardi teamed up with engine manufacturer Brian Hart. For the 2000 season the team were forced to use 1998-spec Ford Zetec-R V10 engines, which were rebadged as Fondmetal engines in deference to his financial input. However, Rumi's poor health forced him to withdraw his backing at the end of the season.
Points were rare during this time; Pedro Lamy scored his one and only point in Formula 1 with a 6th place in the 1995 Australian Grand Prix; this result was followed by a long barren spell until Marc Gené finished 6th in the 1999 European Grand Prix. That same race, Luca Badoer had been running fourth until his gearbox failed with 13 laps to go, at which point the Italian burst into tears next to his stricken car. Other Minardi drivers also came close to scoring points, including Shinji Nakano who finished 7th at the 1998 Canadian Grand Prix and Esteban Tuero, who finished 8th at the 1998 San Marino Grand Prix.
Minardi was known for not using pay drivers, but for the 2000 season, the team signed Argentinian Gastón Mazzacane, who only acquired the seat thanks to backing from the short-lived pay television channel Pan-American Sports Network.




European Minardi (2001–2005)

The team, now near collapse, was purchased by Australian businessman Paul Stoddart in early 2001, merging it with his European Racing Formula 3000 team. Minardi's performance at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix ended up to be particularly successful, with Australian driver Mark Webber's bringing the car home in 5th place in his first Formula One race and Malaysian pay driver Alex Yoong finishing 7th.
Another memorable episode happened during the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix. The race was stopped just after 75% distance, after treacherous weather and a sequence of accidents, including a spin into the grass for lead Minardi driver Jos Verstappen. Stoddart later claimed that Verstappen had enough fuel on board to last until just after the time the red flag was eventually waved, due to the large number of safety car laps. Assuming Stoddart is being truthful, Verstappen may well have won this race had he not spun.
During its final years, the Minardi team was almost as famous for its politics as its racing. Stoddart was described as the Formula One teams' unofficial shop steward. During his time as team principal, Stoddart campaigned for reduced costs in the sport. He appealed to the competing car manufacturers for an agreement where the independent (and, on the whole, financially weaker) teams in Formula One would get cheaper engine deals than at present. In return, the team principals who would benefit from this would support the works teams when it came to opposing new rule changes enforced by the FIA, such as the proposed ban on traction control. Before the start of the 2004 season, however, Stoddard threatened to withdraw his support against the ban on traction control, but later changed his mind. Midway through the 2004 season, the other teams voted to change the unpopular single lap qualifying system back to the old 1 hour format, but Stoddart voted against because it would also mean the 107% rule being reintroduced; this meant the change never occurred, as a unanimous vote was required to change something so significant in the middle of a season. Before the 2005 Australian Grand Prix Stoddart initially threatened to withdraw his cars if they were made to comply with the revised regulations for 2005. Stoddart claimed that Minardi could not afford to adapt their cars. Once again Stoddart ended up withdrawing his threat. Stoddart has also repeatedly called for the resignation of the FIA's President, Max Mosley, particularly in the aftermath of the 2005 United States Grand Prix where the majority of teams withdrew from the race due to safety concerns about their Michelin tyres. While Minardi had run Bridgestone tyres, Stoddart had offered to compromise with the Michelin teams but Mosley had rejected it.

In 2004 Minardi was represented by two rookies, Italian Gianmaria "Gimmi" Bruni and Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner. During the year, they celebrated their 20th season in F1. Baumgartner scored Minardi's first point in more than 2 years at the United States Grand Prix, finishing 8th (only 8 cars finished the 2004 USGP). Baumgartner was also the first Hungarian to score a point in a World Championship F1 race.

In 2005, Minardi's drivers were Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher. They amassed a total of 7 points following the debacle of the 2005 United States Grand Prix, in which they finished fifth and sixth (of six runners) respectively. After losing financial backing from his sponsors before the 2005 German Grand Prix, Patrick Friesacher was replaced by Dutch Jordan test driver Robert Doornbos, creating the first all-Dutch driver line-up in Formula one since Carel Godin de Beaufort and Ben Pon drove together for the Ecurie Maarsbergen team at the 1962 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.




Red Bull purchase

In 2005, Paul Stoddart stated that he would sell Minardi if he could find the right buyer. Stoddart claimed that he had 41 approaches.[5] His criterion for a sale was the ability of a buyer to move the team forward and leave the team based in Faenza. The drinks manufacturer Red Bull, which already owned another Formula One team, Red Bull Racing, decided to set up a second team to promote American drivers that have risen through its young driver programme, Red Bull Driver Search.
Ending several weeks of speculation on 10 September 2005 Red Bull announced it would take control of Minardi in November and run it as their "rookie team" from 2006.[6]
Minardi fans worldwide immediately started an online petition[7] to save the Minardi team name and the team's 20-year heritage in F1 after the news broke. The petition was not successful and the team was renamed Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2006 season. The greatly increased funding from Red Bull, including the use of the Red Bull chassis and Ferrari engines, gradually led to improved results, culminating in Toro Rosso's maiden win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.




Racing return for Minardi

Giancarlo Minardi and Paul Stoddart have both made use of the Minardi name in new motorsport ventures.
On 1 January 2006, Giancarlo Minardi re-acquired certain rights to use the Minardi name in racing. He also announced that he was licensing the Minardi name to established team GP Racing in the junior Euro Formula 3000 series, to be entitled 'Minardi Team by GP Racing'.

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