Gian Carlo Minardi answers

Last week end I carefully followed all the comments posted by many Formula 1 fans on the net.

I would like to thank all the people who expressed their affection and confidence and give my regards to all those people who criticized me.

I just want to point out that my intention was not to blame anyone  and I don’t want to make any dissection of events to anyone’s favor. I am and forever will be  a passionate sportsman.

It’s with this spirit that I simply expressed my impressions and I still think that Newey has a “surprise” inside his “hat”. This doesn’t mean that the aforementioned surprise is something irregular, on the contrary, my reference to a “rabbit” inside a “hat” is to stress the possibility that something “magic” ,not to say brilliant,  is hidden inside the hat itself.

This is the point. As a person who is passionate about motorsport, I would like to discover what can make a performance so special: we’re talking about a 2.5 sec. advantage per lap.

That’s all!

Regards to all racing enthusiasts!

Singapore, What’s inside Newey and Vettel’s magic hat?

Waiting for the Korean GP, the F.1 Championship’s 14th event to take place at the beginning of October, I would like to bring back all the wonderful memories linked to my experience at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and make some remarks about the Singapore GP, which I’d like to share with you and try to find some answers.

I will start by saying that I was enthralled by the Singapore background. It was a brand new experience, which was completely different from any other experience I was used to live (the circuit opens only in the afternoon and closes at late night). I had the chance to monitor all drivers’ on-track deeds from a suite located at the end of the pit’s straight (which leads to the first chicane). The monitor I used to watch the race displayed also all drivers’ laptimes.

Since I left Singapore, I’ve been keeping in my mind the 2.5 sec advantage of Vettel over his teammate Webber and the other drivers.

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT: By this statement It’s not my intention to devalue Sebastian Vettel, who always manages his Red Bull the best way and I don’t want even to jab at anyone, I just want to tell what I personally saw and heard during that three-day-event.

According to my experience, I think that a 2.5 sec advantage each lap is really too much. It’s like a three-generation- development gap, it’s a huge gap. Furthermore, the time gap between Vettel and Grosjean in FP3 and the Red Bull’s driver and Rosberg in qualifying was only few tenths. The German driver could have played cat and mouse on Saturday, anyway, something is still not clear for me.

DOUBT 1: from my suite, I chose some mainstays as a reference point in order to monitor and compare the drivers’ way of driving. My mainstays were the kerbstones located on the corner which leads to Republic Boulevard. Their function is to avoid passing on the kerb. I was impressed by Vettel’s neat way of driving on that stretch of the track. He was able to drive all that stretch without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals (also his teammate). His laptime was also remarkable in T3, which is the track’s sector with the highest concentration of corners.


DOUBT 2: on the same stretch,  Sebastian was able to speed up 50 m before any other driver, Webber included. Whilst all the other drivers speeded up on the same stretch, Vettel was able to speed up before them. The thing that surprised me the most was the RB1 engine’s output sound. Besides speeding up 50 m before any other driver, the Renault engine of the German’s car grinded like no other French engines on track, neither like Mark’s. That sound was similar to the sound made by the engine when the traction control system got into action in the past seasons.

Furthermore, that sound was only heard when Vettel chalked up his excellent performances. For example, after the safety car went off, he took a great re-start and chalked up many excellent laps, gaining a 32 sec. gap over Alonso, then he leveled off, taking precautions in the case he would have had to pit one more time. In those moments the Renault engine was more powerful than any other engines (Renault and other brands).

There are some aspects (1- Vettel’s very neat way of driving; 2-Vettel’s speedup 50 m before the other drivers; 3- the abnormal sound of the RB1’s Renault engine; 4- Vetter’s more than 2 sec. advantage over the rivals ) that make me think and I would like to have some answers. All those doubts are even more serious if we consider that Webber wasn’t able to do that, since he’s a common human being….I don’t want to blame anyone , I just would like to get into the deep of the matter.

Singapore GP – UP & DOWN

Sebastian Vettel 10 – There’s nothing more to say. Besides his technical predominance, the German driver manages his car the best way, unlike his teammate who is a fast driver in my opinion. His way of driving gave the impression he still had a margin to improve. Red Bull deserves a 10, too.

Fernando Alonso 10 – He took an excellent start. Started 7th, he jumped up to 3rd and he was determined until the end. Despite Red Bull’s technical predominance he didn’t give up and drove the whole race with strong determination. Ferrari’s strategy was flawless; anyway the Italian team doesn’t deserve more than a 7.

Kimi Raikkonen 9.5 – Despite some physical problems (backache), he made a great recovery and managed to finish 3rd.

Nico Rosberg 8 – He drove an excellent free practice session and an excellent race. He started from the dirty side of the track and he was ahead of his teammate throughout the week end. I liked his way of racing very much.

Felipe Massa 7+ – It was his first race after the official departure from the Maranello-based team. The Brazilian’s future is uncertain. His strategy was different if compared to Alonso’s, but he was able to recover several positions and finished 6th. He was ahead of his teammate in qualifying.

Jenson Button, Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg, Adrian Sutil 7 – They didn’t make any mistakes and finished in the zone points even if their cars were not so performing. All the other drivers get an unsatisfactory grade, especially Mark Webber who got up to all sorts of things, hitch-hiking included.

Singapore GP – Preview

With the Monza GP, the F.1 Championship has left Europe, seven more races outside the ancient continent are scheduled for the next months. The first one is the Singapore GP to take place at the Marina Bay Street Circuit this week end.  It’s a street circuit and it’s not an ordinary one for F.1 both because the GP is raced at night and because safety car is traditionally deployed during Sunday race. That is due to the circuit’s features: walls and very few escape hatches. Some drivers’ supremacy could be void. So, good fortune will play a key role, especially if tyre shift will be done in the right moment in the case the safety car will be deployed. What is more, due to weather condition and the high temperatures of the asphalt, Pirelli tyres will play a key role again, as they will be probably subject to sudden degradation.

Many aspects can affect the final result, so they have to be kept under control. The Singapore GP represents for Ferrari the last chance to keep on playing the role of a 2013 title contender, before giving itself up to the 2014 season. We’ve seen how competitive Red Bull is in any situation, so, despite many upgrades will be made, it won’t be easy for other teams to stop its supremacy without an external “support”. Mercedes can bother Red Bull and Ferrari for what concerning the competition for the 2013 title, while Lotus is undergoing a financial crisis as proved by Kimi’s return to Ferrari and many technicians’ exit.

As far as the Championship’s outsiders are concerned, all eyes are on Toro Rosso and Sauber, which both delivered good performances at Monza in qualifying and during the race. The Faenza-based team will make further upgrades to try to get higher positions until the end of the season. The Italian team is also working on the new car. I’m glad to point out that in this venue, the “made in Italy” will not only be represented by the Maranello-based Scuderia, but also by a Forlì-based company who will be responsible for lighting up the Singapore’s night race, the DZ Engineering.

Leaving Europe, all teams will have to face a further snag, which is linked to next venues’ geographical position, which makes aerodynamic upgrades very difficult to be made, because of some logistic problems. The final part of the season will be so intense.

It will be my first time in Singapore. The Minardi Team has never had the opportunity to take part in the Singapore GP, so I will have a chance to experience the Singapore GP’s stunning atmosphere for the first time.

Italian GP – UP & DOWN

The Italian GP was won by an amazing Sebastian Vettel. Let’s grade drivers.

Sebastian Vettel 10 – We have to applaud an amazing Red Bull and an extraordinary Vettel. They were flawless all through the race week end. The team made remarkable upgrades. I had the opportunity to see the new wing and I have to admit it was a real masterpiece. No doubt they have the edge over their rivals who will barely beat them. Only bad luck can slow them down.

Mark Webber 8.5 – The Australian drove a good race, even if he feels the weight of the upcoming end of his career in F.1. He held a very interesting press conference at Monza and, even if he was overtaken by Alonso, he attacked the Spaniard for all the time.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa 8.5 – Nando’s overtaking on Webber was stunning. Felipe drove a very good race, as well. The Brazilian took an excellent start and showed to be a faithful supporting driver. In the case Ferrari hasn’t taken a decision about the Brazilian’s future employment as a Ferrari racer, yet, the already-mentioned characteristic can be in his favor.

Nico Hulkenberg 8 – He drove an excellent qualifying race and a very good official race. He was one of the GP’s main protagonists. Sauber confirmed to be at ease in Monza, where last year he finished second ahead of Alonso.

Nico Rosberg 6 – Mercedes had probably hard times to run on the long straights of Monza circuit; however the German driver was very good at scoring points.

Daniel Ricciardo – Toro Rosso 7.5 – They were very performing both in qualifying and during the race. Both cars finished in the top 10. Ricciardo finished 7th, after fighting tooth and nail.

Lotus’s drivers – It’s hard to judge their performance. Their qualifying race was not so good, while Kimi set good chronos during the race, recovering positions. If we analyze the race after the accident, we would give them more than a passing grade; however, because of an awful qualifying race and a contact with Perez at the beginning of the official race, they only deserve a passing grade.

Lewis Hamilton 6 – The official race was ruined by a negative qualifying race. He recovered several positions during the race. That is a clear proof of how important a qualifying race is, especially on those circuits where the time gap between teams is only few tenths.

Jenson Button 6.5 – Despite his car is still not competitive; he managed to score one point.

Gian Carlo Minardi “Domenicali cares about keeping tranquility inside the team”

The summer is almost over, but the temperature in F.1 is still so high not only for what concerning the attempt to run-up to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, but also for what concerning the drivers’ market. As it has happened for some years, Massa’s seat is still red-hot and everybody is taking a watchful eye on Ferrari. We’ve heard many rumors about Raikkonen, who is supposed to team up with Fernando Alonso, who just replaced the Finn few years ago.

In a recent interview Stefano Domenicali has stated that the Brazilian F.1 racer is still at the top of the list for next season “I think that Domenicali is caring about keeping calm inside the team. That is the most important mood to continue to chase after Red Bull”, says Gian Carlo Minardi “ in this moment, except for Raikkonen and Button, there are no drivers whose level is as high as Massa’s or even higher. The Finn has got his best results alongside Lotus, as he is not under pressure like he was as a McLaren and Ferrari’s racer”, continues the manager from Faenza “I don’t want to bring into question Kimi as a driver, who is one of the best drivers of the Championship, what I bring into question is his character, which is so particular and difficult to handle.”

“So, if Felipe becomes more performing by the end of the season, he will continue to be a Ferrari’s driver. That could be the right choice in order to not to destabilize the team. I still think that at a certain point an experienced driver should team up with a rookie driver”, ends Minardi “but I don’t feel like disapproving Ferrari and Domenicali’s choice.”

Fernando Alonso has announced that he will “tweet” some news in the next days.

Gian Carlo Minardi: “Silverstone test days are Ferrari’s keystone”

We saw a very performing Ferrari at Spa-Francorchamps. Fernando Alonso poured out all the determination and anxiety gained over the past weeks on the Belgian track, displaying all his qualities.

Red Bull’s advantage on the Italian team is still big (46 points), but the Maranello-based team is going to the right direction. Silvertsone testing can be considered as the keystone, as Gian Carlo Minardi tells us “I hope that at Monza Ferrari will be as performing as it was at Spa. Last Sunday we had confirmation of the F.1 hierarchy, Red Bull is ahead of all other teams and Ferrari is determined to run after the Austrian team. The driver test run by the rookie test driver Davide Rigon, have given further evidence of how important tests are for a F.1 team. During the three-day-testing, all data gained by the three main divisions (track, simulator and wind tunnel) were ordered.

Monza and Singapore will be decisive for the season’s goals to be set “Ferrari has to make a great effort in order to decrease the disadvantage with its main rivals. The Italian audience can support the team in doing its best. The Italian team has returned to be the World Championship’s second team in Belgium, but it’s still behind Red Bull and Mercedes in the constructors’ championship. At this point, Massa’s contribution is needed”, ends Minardi.

Gian Carlo Minardi “Hamilton-Rosberg, the best pair”

Gian Carlo Minardi has supported Mercedes’s choices since the beginning of the championship, saying that the German team has the best driving pair in F.1. Among the top team only the German team has been able to bring both its drivers to the top step of the podium: Rosberg sealed a double win (Monaco and Great Britain) and Hamilton scored a win in Hungary, as compared to Ferrari’s double win scored by Alonso (in China and Spain) and Vettel’s 5 wins sealed in Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada, Germany and Belgium. Lotus’s Raikkonen sealed an only win in Australia.

After eleven GP and before the Italian GP, Mercedes is second on 235 points in the constructors’ championship; Red Bull is on 312 and Ferrari on 218 “Hamilton and Rosberg represent the well-matched driving pair of the whole Championship. Nico is a very fast driver, so he’s as good as his team mate Hamilton. Nico has managed to incite the Englishman into doing what is within his means”, says Minardi “the team made its choices and now Rosberg has to score as many points as he can for the Championship.”

It won’t be easy for Ferrari to threaten Mercedes and Red Bull only with Alonso “If Massa doesn’t wake up, it won’t be easy for Ferrari to take the second place or even threaten Red Bull who can now only rely on Vettel to fight for the win. Webber has unconsciously lost the strength needed to strive for top positions.”

After the win sealed at Spa, Sebastian Vettel echoed Minardi’s statement saying to the Bild that the two Mercedes’s drivers complement one another.

Belgian GP – The Report Card

After the Belgian GP, which was won by Sebastian Vettel, followed by a great Fernando Alonso and by the poleman Lewis Hamilton, let’s grade the main protagonists along with Gian Carlo Minardi.

Sebastian Vettel 9.5 – It’s not a 10 because he didn’t get the pole which was taken by Hamilton. Apart from that, he ran a flawless race. His car can’t be easily defeated, however he delivered good performances by himself. The difference between him and Webber is remarkable. He made the difference once again.

Fernando Alonso 9 – His race was flawless, however, the mistake he made in qualifying and, above all, his behavior, which makes the team feel more and more nervous, is disadvantaging him. In this moment we don’t need a sulky Alonso, especially after a good race such as the Spa GP was. That kind of behavior doesn’t suit my idea of racing. He doesn’t have to demonstrate anything to anyone, for sure, however I prefer on-track results rather than words.

Lewis Hamilton 8.5 – He did an excellent job in qualifying, going from zero to hero. He played his trump card in Q3. He did a great job along with Vettel, as they both managed to run one more lap. He suffered his car’s issues during the race.

Nico Rosberg 8 – He did what he had to do, that is scoring important points for the team. Thanks to the points he scored the team has secured the second place in the Championship. He was behind Hamilton at the beginning and set excellent laptimes. He suffered his car’s issues, too.

Mark Webber 5 – His mind is already on holiday. He’s now less aggressive and determined than he was in the past or at the beginning of his career in F.1. He’s about to end his career in F.1. Personally I don’t like that kind of statement at the beginning of the season. Perhaps he’s unconsciously less focused on racing.

Jenson Button 7 – He had a very good hard tyres management once again. The team’s strategy was very good. He’s a world champion and maximized the team’s resources in the best way.

Felipe Massa 6 – This mark is to encourage him. It would be necessary to know how technical issues affected his race. He was very good at overtaking Grosjean, but there’s a huge difference between him and his team mate in terms of performances.

Romain Grosjean 6.5 – Perhaps he felt the influence of the past season. He managed to score points although the week end was not so happy for Lotus.

Adrian Sutil 7 – He managed to score points thanks to a good performance just when finishing in the top 10 is getting more and more difficult.

Daniel Ricciardo 8 – He ran an excellent race and was supported by a very competitive Toro Rosso car. He didn’t make any mistake. He managed to make an excellent overtaking over Perez, even if the Mexican was not always correct. He’s showing great things, so he deserves to be a Red Bull driver.

Kimi Raikkonen 7 – He had troubles with the left front brake. He sorted out that problem in an excellent way, that’s why he’s a world champion. He gave up only at last, so he deserves to be rewarded.

Hungarian GP – UP & DOWN

After the Hungarian GP and the first win sealed by the Mercedes’ driver Lewis Hamilton, let’s grade the protagonists.

LEWIS HAMILTON 10 – He drove a perfect qualifying race. He had a perfect tyre management during the race, attacking and defending in the right moments.

KIMI RAIKKONEN 8.5 – Unfortunately his qualifying race was not so good, this is the reason why he doesn’t deserve to get a higher grade. He deserves a high grade for the race he drove, which was excellent. He pitted only twice and had an excellent tyre management. What a pity for the qualifying race.

ROMAIN GROSJEAN 7 – He deserves a high grade, I think he was penalized too much. If he had been another driver, the commissioners would have been more benevolent.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL 7.5 – He was confident to take the pole so he was a little bit nervous during the qualifying race. During the race he attacked Raikkonen in vain, accusing the Finn of being unfair. Considering Webber’s result, he would have given much more.

MARK WEBBER 8.5 – Despite bad luck always picks on him, he drove an excellent race; he recovered and scored important points.

FERNANDO ALONSO 6 – He barely gets a passing grade. To be honest, I didn’t expect him to make those pre and post-race statements. He managed to get a good result in an unlucky week end for Ferrari, but, you win and lose together with your team. He managed to score important points, but he doesn’t get a higher grade because of his statements. Massa doesn’t get a passing grade.

JENSON BUTTON 7 – He was able to manage a not-so-performing McLaren in the best way.

PASTOR MALDONADO 7 – In a very difficult day, he was able to score the first point. At this point of the Championship, it gets more and more difficult to get the points zone, as the five top teams (Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren) don’t want to give away anything. Second-tier teams will have to try to take advantage of each chance available, just like Pastor did, taking advantage of Rosberg’s withdrawal.


Hungarian GP- PREVIEW

With the Hungarian GP, the F.1 World Championship enters the hot part of the season. There are only 9 GP left after the Hungarian racing week end. Each of them is really important. After the summer break, with the Belgian and Italian GP to be held in Spa and Monza, standing could be outlined.

The Budapest-based circuit looks like a kart track, where overtaking is really a difficult task, even if there will be two DRS zones. Every single mistake is paid twice at the Hungarian circuit. The Hungarian GP will be run after the three-day-test session at Silverstone and new tyres will make any prevision even harder. The Pirelli will provide all teams with tyres which have 2012 season tyre shoulder and 2013 compound. I don’t think it will change anything in terms of forces involved, anyway it will be a further matter of uncertainty.

As we saw in Silverstone, the Red Bull continues to deliver strong performances, but also Ferrari ran lots of km and gained important data to develop the F138. Rigon did a great job and Massa delivered good performances. Mercedes did a good job, as well. The German team could be one more challenger for the victory.

Qualifying will be very important in Hungary, anyway many factors can influence the race, so we won’t have a foregone conclusion. The laps to run are so many and drivers will probably have to pit more than expected because of high temperatures. A sort of lane is usually created on the track and drivers will have to try not to go outside that in order to avoid losing grip. Strategy will play a key role, so it will be necessary to drive a perfect race to get good results.

We’ll see which team has been the best to try to bridge the gap with Red Bull, which delivered excellent performances even at the Nurburgring. The more the Championship goes ahead, the harder it will be for the second-tier teams to enter the top 10. This was clearly displayed by the German GP standing.

German GP – Up & Down

Even the ninth round has finished. Let’s take some votes on the German GP’s main protagonists.

PIRELLI 7 – After last week’s great issue, the supplier was able to find a solution to a ridiculous technical situation. They hadn’t any problem this time. However I’m still skeptic about the changeableness of tyre behavior; I can understand the difference between different types of compound, but I cannot understand the reason why tyres behavior changes so much whenever the temperature of the asphalt changes a little bit. I don’t think it’s the right way to make a GP more spectacular.

Sebastian Vettel 9 – There isn’t much more to say. He can always make the most of an excellent car and he was able to recover from Silverstone’s whitewash. Webber was very clever, as well. The Australian was able to respond to the problem he had during pit-stop in a very good way. He recovered several positions and scored points, showing he can make it onto the podium.

Raikkonen 8.5 – Excellent GP both for him and for the Lotus.

Romain Grosjean 8 – He was a good aggressor and team man. He gave way to his team mate.

Fernando Alonso 7.5 – This mark is only for Alonso, not for the Ferrari team which is in trouble at the moment.

Jenson Button 7 – He showed he is able to give the best of himself, making the most of his McLaren which is not yet at the top. The team can be a dangerous outsider also in Hungary, where temperatures will be so high.

Sergio Perez – Nico Rosberg – Nico Hulkenberg – Daniel Ricciardo 6 – The racers who deserve this mark the most are the Toro Rosso’s driver Ricciardo, who drove a very good qualifying race and the Sauber’s German driver who scored one point.

German GP – Preview

The German GP, to be held at the Nurburgring in the coming weekend, will be run in the season’s crucial moment, only a few days after the British GP at Silverstone. It will be so difficult for the teams to make upgrades. In Germany the Pirelli will bring new compounds which will have unknown results. No doubt it wouldn’t have been possible to use the same tyre used at Silverstone, because of their technical issues and I’m sure the Italian supplier will supply teams with the already-tested tyre which were used in the past season (Soft and Medium), even though cars development has been remarkable in the last few months, especially from the point of view of the downforce.

The Ferrari will have to reverse a difficult situation both in qualifying and during the race, as, besides Alonso’s talent and good performance in the last GP, the performance gap between the Italian team and Red Bull- Mercedes was still remarkable, as shown by Webber’s recovery. The Red Bull still remains the reference car and the car to defeat. Red Bull and Mercedes will fight for the pole and I think the Ferrari can achieve good results, as well.

Great attention will be focused on two outsiders such as the Toro Rosso and the Force India, who showed to be able to take some important points off the top teams. The Lotus will have to take a step backwards after the introduction of a new damping, which has given the team the same competitiveness it had at the start of the season. As far as the weather is concerned, in Germany temperatures are usually low.

MEMORIES. The Nurburgring reminds me of great moments. We took part in the F.2 covered-wheel final race and we took an amazing 2nd place with Nannini, after a beautiful bagarre with the BMW-March. In that race Nannini crossed the line having only 3 tyres left, because of a clash which drove him off track.

In a difficult 1999 F.1 season, we managed to take a 6th place with Mark Gené. We would have achieved a double success, as, thanks to excellent strategies, flawless pit-stops and weather changes, Luca Badoer was making a fantastic comeback, so he deserved the podium. Unfortunately just few laps before the end, a gearbox issue caused an oil leak, forcing him to stop his car trackside. It was one of those races in which we went from hero to zero. It would have been a great result and maybe we would have changed the history of the Minardi Team.

In its 600th GP the Williams almost scored its first points, finishing 11th and 12th. To be honest, I hoped they finished in the top 10 to make that day even more special for them. I want to congratulate Frank on his efforts to develop his team. I wish him to become again one of the F.1 Championship main protagonists.