F1 | GP RUSSIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “ONE OF THE BEST SEASONS. AN ERROR IN EVALUATION BY A GREAT NORRIS”

Once again the rain gave us a weekend full of excitement starting with an absolutely atypical qualifying session with Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and George Russell occupying the first three places and with Lewis Hamilton decidedly subdued and also the protagonist of a fairly serious mistake.

In the race the arrival of the rain during the final stages upset the finishing order that seemed defined with Norris launched towards his first career win. Lando let us see all his talent, supported by a fast growing McLaren. Unfortunately, the decision to stay on the track with the slicks did not pay off and the seventh place did not do him justice. It was an error of evaluation that will serve him in the near future.

It was the same situation also in Ferrari that on the one hand celebrated the podium with Carlos Sainz while Leclerc has to be satisfied with fifteenth place. The position certainly does not reflect the potential expressed. The decision not to re-enter the pits at the right moment to try and attack Bottas and Ricciardo with the intermediates did not pay off.

Well done to Mercedes’ people on the wall who called in Lewis Hamilton who thus celebrated his hundredth win. A new record that will be hard to beat, even if these milestones are meant to be broken. Max Verstappen’s second place was decidedly positive after having started from last place. The weather was a great help to him as well considering that the Red Bull was not in top form here in Sochi. They managed to make to maximize the result by limiting the damage in regards to its direct rival.

Without any doubt we are witnessing one of the best seasons in recent years, both in competitiveness and the variability of the forces in the field. On the one hand the “old men” such as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikonnen who are making the most of their class and experience and on the other hand the young drivers are looking in with great determination. In between is Hamilton who wants to show at all costs that he is still the strongest.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | ITALIAN GP, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “WEEKEND IN MICHELE’S NAME”


With these values it truly takes very little to alter those results that seem already written and defined. It all began with two mistakes in the pits that brought Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen together at the first after the relative stops. Neither of the two wanted to lift his foot off the peddle and, as a spur of the moment comment, I would say that the blame is fifty-fifty. In the first lap they had already given each other a “small kiss”.

The tension between these two drivers is certainly very high and FIA should go into damage control to bring them back onto the right path. This tension then deprived us of the two main protagonists but at the same time gave us a wonderful and very tight grand prix with six drivers within the space of just eight seconds. There was no lack of penalties, as in the case of Perez who “gave” third place to an excellent Bottas who has started from the back of the grid. Full points for McLaren. With the double and the fastest lap by Daniel Ricciardo in the last lap the team strongly consolidated third place amongst the constructors, at Ferrari’s expense.

A wonderful weekend has ended with ACI that wanted the presence of the eighteen medals winners from Tokyo at Monza. The celebration Saturday morning with which the Parabolica curve was named after Michele Alboreto was moving and I had the great honour of being beside President Sticchi Damiani, Jean Todt, Matteo Binotto and Michele’s family.

There was a great friendship with Michele. He began and ended his career in open wheels with the Minardi Team, giving me the first and only win. He took the last point of his career at the Monaco Grand Prix at the wheel of the M194. We had been making many plans aimed at the growth of young drivers. We are carrying out this project with the school that bears his name, collecting important results with ACI Sport.

Once again Monza has given an important signal. This Grand Prix deserves continuity. And to conclude this extraordinary weekend, as of today the high chicane at Imola takes the name of the Fausto Gresini curve.

In two weeks the tussle will start up again with the Russian GP.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP HOLLAND, THE PINNT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AN EPIC CHANGE”

It was very good to see the full grandstands that reminded us of the good times of Formula 1. We are facing a generational change because for the first time we witnessed a completely “orange” show and not the classic Ferrari-red as once occurred. All this of course thanks to Max Verstappen.

For all the weekend we saw a great Red Bull and a perfect Verstappen with a Hamilton who until the end tried to take away the win away from him but in any case still taking home the point for the fastest lap. We are witnessing a wonderful duel and both Max and Lewis are entertaining us.

Ferrari is in great difficulty, even if it had deluded us in free practice 2 but the race brought everyone back to reality. Sainz had his worst race since joining Ferrari, overtaken in the end by an excellent Alonso who, after having passed his team mate in the first stage, held the place for all the GP. An extraordinary Gasly was the first of the “others”. It was a fantastic race for Alpha Tauri. Too bad it is running with only one car. This is a major handicap for the constructors’ championship.

This weekend made us forget Spa-Francorchamps and now we concentrate on an electrifying Monza where the battle between the two contenders will continue. In this case the Mercedes could have the better. The power of the engine could make itself felt.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP OLANDA, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “TOUGH TRACK WITH WEATHER THE UNKNOWN FACTOR

After the mess in Spa-Francorchamps Formula 1 is ready to restart from Zandvoort. In 1985 Holland hosted the final grand prix (won by Nikki Lauda) and I had the fortune to be present with Piero Martini at the wheel of the M185. Unfortunately for us the race lasted only a few kilometres with Piero forced to park the car on the side of the track.

However, I will tell you a brief anecdote since we have just “come out” of the Imola weekend with the Historic Minardi Day. Piero parked the Minardi right in front of the grandstand where Frits van Eerd was and for more than 60 laps he had our livery under his eyes. The colours of his brand Jumbo and of his current Racing Team Nederland with which he grabbed a fantastic second place at Le Mans are the result of that episode.

Zandvoort is a tough track, renovated with a raised section. The weather will be a major variable with wind and rain dominating. For the most of the drivers the track will be a novelty. The younger ones with the Formula 4 and/or Formula 3 behind them have already been able to get to know it. A full house is expected thanks to Max Verstappen and the fans have already declared the utmost sportsmanship, especially in regards to Lewis Hamilton.

We hope to witness a fine weekend and that Formula 1 will regain credibility.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BELGIUM, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “THE ALLOCATION OF THE POINTS HITS A WRONG NOTE”

There was safety in first place and this was protected. The decision not to run was smart as visibility was practically zero. The long winding row of cars had to lengthen to try and catch a glimpse of something as even the rear lights of the cars were no longer visible. Maybe this decision came a few hours late but I also understand the need of the organizers to start the race to protect the economic part. At times it is too easy to criticize.

Honestly the only negative point for me was the allocation of the points. Williams certainly hit bingo with both the cars in the points and Russell on the podium behind Verstappen but in so doing this may may have distorted  the constructors’ ladder (and therefore the attribution of the television rights to the teams) and the race for the world championship.

All this takes me back to 1985, again on the occasion of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. On that occasion we had a completely opposite weather with completely abnormal heat. The road surface had been completely relayed in the days preceding the race. The power of Formula 1 powered by the turbo engines had blown away the new surface creating a situation of great danger.

On that occasion the weekend was suspended from the Friday and subsequently recovered in the month of September. With today’s calendars it is impossible to think of a similar solution.

Therefore, I am 90% in agreement with the decision taken. What is lacking is the 10% linked to the allocation of the points. All that remains is to look forward to Holland.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FI RESTARTS FROM SPA BUT I WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU IN IMOLA”

I expect a weekend full of appointments and passion. Even if at Spa the duel for the world title between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen resumes after almost a month I expect many of you at the Imola Circuit for the fifth edition of the Historic Minardi Day. It will be a new beginning. We have put in place many protocols and we hope in the common sense and sportsmanship of all our fans and enthusiasts, as they have always shown in these years, for the weekend to unfold properly.

There is a lot of desire to go back onto the track, as the enthusiasts have shown which has allowed us to exceed 290 cars present, just like the data that is coming out of the early ticket sales. As always there will be two days of passion and entertainment with extraordinary cars that have made Motorsport history. There will be no lack of problems but we count on overcoming them with everybody’s help.

After the summer break the season restarts from a track that is as fabulous and demanding track as Spa-Francorchamps with a Mercedes that has partially recovered the gap with Red Bull. However, it is a Mercedes rattled internally by a number of rumours.

We are entering into the most complicate phase of the season where reliability will play a major, if not decisive, role in the final result. We expect three demanding circuits for the engine, in order: Belgium, Holland and Monza. Some teams have already mounted the third unit and must eventually decide when to take the penalty for a further change.

We are also entering into the hot part of the drivers’ market, even if the first confirmation has already come with the renewal of Fernando Alonso by Alpine. And it could not be otherwise… Two intense days await us and I hope to be able to meet you in the paddock and the pits of Imola.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP HUNGARY, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A TEAM VICTORY FOR ALPINE BUT THE PENALITES WERE NOT CONSISTENT”

The weekend that just finished will be hard to forget in a hurry for both Esteban Ocon and Alpine’s absolutely unexpected win and for what happened at the first curve. Valtteri Bottas and then Lance Stroll played bowling with their rivals and scored a strike. It was a rash manoeuvre by the Canadian who tried to make up six places braking (so to speak) on the grass, colliding with Leclerc who in turn crashed into Ricciardo. The race was absolutely compromised also for Max Verstappen who in two grands prix managed to gather only one point.

In Hungary we witnessed an unpredictable grand prix even if the restart after the red flag with only Lewis Hamilton on the starting grid while all the other cars restarted from pit-lane will stay in the annals of the world championship. The many times champion gave his all and reached the finish line exhausted. From last position he climbed up to third place on a track where it is hard to overtake setting off a wonderful duel with Fernando Alonso. Nando showed all his worth by managing to keep him at bay for four laps which were essential for Ocon to take the win ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

With the last two grands prix the championship has livened up. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took the leadership again at Red Bull’s expense but anything can still happen. The gap between the two contenders for the title is not so big, even though Mercedes gave a demonstration of its competitiveness, safety and reliability, even if they made some mistakes.

It was a weekend that also highlighted how essential it is to put otgether a single work group for the whole season since once again we did not have uniformity in the decisions and penalties.

Bottas and Stroll got away with only two points on their drivers’ licenses and relegated five positions down the starting grid at Spa-Francorchamps while Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikonnen paid with a stop and go plus 10 seconds for speeding in pit-lane and the collision with Mazepin. In my opinion the marshals used a light hand with Hamilton as well. His behaviour in qualifying, at Perez’s expense, was punishable. For a similar manoeuvre Fernando Alonso paid five positions on the grid compromising his championship.

It was a good grand prix but the result was distorted at the start even though we must congratulate Alpine for a historic win. Important points also came for Alpha Tauri and especially Williams who were skilful in taking advantage of the situation.
After a break of a few days we will go towards the second part of the season which, due to the health emergency, we do not know how long it will be.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP GREAT BRITAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “HAMILTON AND VERSTAPPEN MUST CALM DOWN”

The first kilometres of the Silverstone Grand Prix were very hard, maybe too hard for Verstappen who tried to defend the leadership at any cost with the conclusion that he finished violently against the barriers at the Copse on the first lap after a collision with his direct rival.

I do not feel like putting all the blame on Hamilton but it could have been an accident with serious repercussions for Verstappen whose body absorbed more than 50Gs deceleration.

Besides the 10” penalty assigned to Hamilton I believe that the marshals should have summoned both drivers because I have the impression that it is going beyond a simple scuffle of the track.

It was not as if the championship were already finished beforehand but this zero points will rekindle the world championship considering that that Lewis reduced the gap to only eight points.

Behind the British driver was placed a perfect Leclerc, the author of a real masterpiece with a Ferrari that is certainly inferior to Mercedes and Red Bull. With the harder compounds it was not as competitive as Hamilton with the Mercedes but he squeezed his car to the full taking a result that was certainly unexpected on Thursday morning.

A different but interesting weekend has ended. I am convinced that the programme of the sprint race must be absolutely repeated but with a review of the format. I am a supporter of pole position taken with the fastest lap but the sprint race can be an interesting starting point for both the public and the teams and drivers, especially if the points system is extended to involve not only the first three finishers.

Gian Carlo Minardi

#F1SPRINT, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “ THE FIRST WAS GOOD, BUT…”

Pole position won with the fastest lap is something irreplaceable but as a first experiment the sprint race passed the test.

They were 17 very tight and exciting laps as Formula 1 should always be, especially Fernando Alonso’s comeback. His first lap was spectacular. Starting from eleventh place he took

However, I am of the opinion that some expedients must be taken. In order to increase the spectacle the points at stake should be increased to encourage the second tier drivers to take a few more risks, transforming these 100 kilometres into a real race rather than qualifying. In doing so we will have two grands prix, one a sprint and one regular, over the weekend, leaving the task of assigning pole position to qualifying.

Now it will be interesting to see tomorrow’s grand prix too to have a full panorama.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A SILVERSTONE PER TRACCIARE LE LINEE GUIDA DELLA PROSSIMA F1”

Silverstone is ready to write an important page of Formula 1 history. For the first time the starting grid of a grand prix will not be defined by the result of qualifying but instead from the Sprint Qualifying Race that will be run on 5.30pm Saturday over a distance of 100km assigning 3, 2 and 1 points to the first three qualifiers. Qualifying is scheduled of Friday 16th (from 7.00pm) and will establish the starting order of the Sprint Qualifying Race. It will be interesting to see the strategies the top teams will adopt. This will represent an important occasion for the second tier teams.

This will not be the only new development in the British weekend. After the approval of FIA’s World Motor Sport Council Pirelli will bring to Silverstone rear tyres with a new construction that will be used until the end of the season.

But an eye must also be turned to the driver’s market, especially in Red Bull which has set its sights on Charles Leclerc to be put alongside its favourite Max Verstappen. Despite the win in Azerbaijan and third place on the ladder Perez’s place in the team may still be in question.

On the track front the challenge between Verstappen and Hamilton is renewed with an eye on the second drivers who will be essential for the fight between the constructors. Mercedes is behind also in this situation and at Silverstone it must do everything to try and reduce the gap or at least not loose further ground from RB.

In short, there are many ingredients to start to draw the guidelines for the Formula 1 of the near future.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP AUSTRIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL AND VERSTAPPEN PERFECT”

Repeating e result only a week later is not taken for granted but Red Bull managed to repeat Max Verstappen’s pole position and win by dictating an unsustainable pace leaving Bottas’ Mercedes more than 17” behind but this rises to 46” in comparison to Lewis Hamilton (fourth across the finish line) who was slowed down by a problem in the rear of his W12.

At this moment the Dutchman is in great shape accompanied by a Red Bull that does not miss a beat and the combination with Honda is an absolute winner, just as it is with Alpha Tauri that gathered another two points thanks to the ninth place with Gasly.

Carlos Sainz’s comeback was excellent and brought the team an important fifth place after finishing ahead of Daniel Ricciardo (seventh with the McLaren), also helped by the penalty to Perez for the collision with Leclerc, even if Lando Norris’ third place was a masterpiece that consolidated his team’s third place in the constructors’ ladder.

George Russell’s excellent race is also to be highlighted. With his Williams he fought with Alonso’s Alpine for tenth place after having taken the fourth row on the grid in qualifying. He would certainly have deserved the first point for the season but the eleventh place does not cancel his excellent performance.

In two weeks they will go to Silverstone and Mercedes must try to resolve its problems if it wants to keep the world championship alive. It will be the stage for the first qualifying race, a real novelty for Formula 1.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP STYRIA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI

Max Verstappen won and dominated the Styrian GP by putting onto the track all the dominating power of his Red Bull against Mercedes’ direct rivals.

The Dutchman is driving very well without making the slightest mistake and showing great peace of mind which until last year was Lewis Hamilton’s calling card.

Red Bull is growing race after race and, finally, the excellent chassis is accompanied by a just as excellent engine even if I do not believe it is the best of the lot yet.

On the other side, Hamilton once again made the difference in Mercedes but he paid a major gap that must make Toto Wolff’s men think. He did very well by making the pit-stop in the penultimate lap to take the point for the fastest lap. This shows that every point will be fundamental in the fight for the title. With the third place Bottas won the personal duel with his direct rival in Red Bull, Sergio Perez, so finishing his main task in light on the constructors’ championship.

With the sixth and seventh places Ferrari once again finished behind McLaren and Norris as well as confirming the gap from the two top teams. The difference in the times is always important. I do not believe that the result would have changed without Leclerc’s mistake in the first lap.

At most that the driver from Monte Carlo may have finished ahead of his team but no more. With his mistake he ruined the race for Gasly who was forced to retire. The weekend was partially saved for Alpha Tauri by Tsunoda. With tenth place behind Alonso and ahead of Vettel and Raikonnen he limited the damage with Alpine’s direct rivals.

Fernando has changed gears since Monte Carlo and again here in Austria he managed to keep ahead of Ocon who must be content with fourteenth place. It was a good result for Lance Stroll as well who brought his Aston Martin to 8th place (12th Vettel) and behind the two Ferraris.

In a week they will race again, even if the weather conditions could change since rain is expected. After which they will move to Silverstone. The season is getting going with Red Bull always the leader on the

F1 | GIAN CARLO MINARDI “GASLY DESERVES THE HIGHEST MARK”

We are ready to experience the seventh weekend of a world championship that is giving us a lot of satisfaction, starting with the wonderful duel between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. We come to Austria which will be the setting for a double race in which the most important variable will be the tyres since for the Austrian GP the C2 will be replaced by the sifter C5.

On paper the track favours Red Bull, just like Paul Ricard should have favoured Mercedes, even if the results on the track told us another story. We are faced with a very hard-fought season where very little is really needed to overturn the result.

Once again the challenge at the lead will be between the seven times British champion and the Dutchman, while the number two drivers will be able to play for third place on the podium, as well as playing a decisive role in the fight for the constructors’ ladder.

Naturally this also applies for the teams behind them. To date Pierre Gasly deserves the highest marks for the season he has raced but the team is not supported by its number two driver as happens amongst its direct rivals from Aston Martin to Alpine. If Yuki Tsunoda does not reset himself accompanied by a dose of humility it will be very hard for Alpha Tauri to keep fifth place. It needs the contribution of both drivers to reach its objectives for the season.

After the double zero points the people in Ferrari must try to react so as not to worsen the gap from McLaren. They could defend themselves in qualifying while on race pace the gap widens.

Gian Carlo Minardi