F1 | GP QATAR, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “FOR FERNANDO AGE IS AN OPTION”

 


As often happens, the starting grid was defined a few short hours before the start of the grand prix. Lately the marshals’ decisions have been very long, as well as questionable, but in the specific case of Verstappen it was correct. With the yellow flag you have to lift the foot off the pedal. Unfortunately, his casualness could have cost him very dearly, but he managed to limit the damage by also taking the point for the point for the fastest lap.

We could have witnessed a race with a number of strategies. In the first part of the race Hamilton went very strongly but with the pace he showed Verstappen could have stayed closer to him. We come to the last two races with a gap of only eight points between the two contenders. On the constructors’’ front, also thanks to Bottas’ retirement, Red Bull scored a major blow by bringing itself to only five points from Mercedes. Practically anything can still happen. We are about to experience a mini and intense world championship enclosed in two rounds. Reliability will be more important than ever.

Alonso entertained us by showing that age is only an aspect of the birth records. It is a pity that he does not have a higher performing car available. He must defend himself tooth and nail by jumping through hoops.

No praise and glory for Ferrari that defends third place at McLaren’s expense despite a really great and important gap from Red Bull and Mercedes. Third place will make it easier to digest the defeat.

Gasly made his fans dream by starting on the front row beside Hamilton but in this moment Alpha Tauri continues to “play” only with one driver and here in Qatar paid a heavy toll in comparison to its direct rivals in Alpine. Fifth place can still be reached but it will certainly not be easy.

In two weeks we will discover the circuit in Saudi Arabia, a very fast street circuit that could again favour Mercedes… But in this world championship nothing has yet been decided.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP BRAZIL, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “HAMILTON AND MERCEDES SUPERSTARS”

A success as a couple. Hamilton and Mercedes were both superstars despite that “flaw” that could have cost a lot. Even if it was just a few mere millimetres it was a major oversight by a team with eight world championships to its credit. With great stubbornness Hamilton recovered position after position, starting with the sprint race that was fruitful, and therefore positions recovered in barely twenty four laps, and he then completed the job with a clear success.

The strategy of changing the endothermic engine paid off because he was able to exploit all the power and on the straight there was no comparison with any rival. He incited the crowd.
Well done also to Bottas who during Saturday’s race took the points for the win away from Verstappen, even if I believe the points system is wrong since there are too few to be won.

For 57 laps Verstappen made him pay a high price, lapping in excellent times answering with strength to the first attack by his direct rival. I found the marshals’ decision not to proceed with the investigation correct since it was a race incident, certainly on the limits of the regulations, between two drivers who are competing for the world title. He could do nothing in bend 3 of the 59th lap. From that moment the Dutchman raised his foot to protect his Honda. It was obvious that the Red Bull did not have Mercedes’ rhythm.

We saw a wonderful struggle between two excellent teams that took points away from each other, with Perez setting the fastest pap in the end with a strategic pit-stop. There were important gaps for all the others with Ferrari once again winning the direct contest with McLaren. With seventh place ahead of the two Alpines Gasly kept Alpha Tauri in the fight for fifth place but it will not be easy with a contribution by Tsunoda.

Two new circuits now await us before the grand final in Abu Dhabi where the title will most likely be assigned. Both Hamilton and Verstappen deserve the crown but only one will win.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP MEXICO, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL AND ALPHA TAURI CAN ACHIEVE THEIR RESPECTIVE OBJECTIVES”

We saw another fantastic grand prix that was very tight until the last lap when Red Bull hit the jackpot. During the free practice they were constantly the point of reference and then on Saturday they lost pole position in an incredible way in favour of Bottas and Hamilton.

What happened in qualifying was unexplainable but just as unexplainable was the start by Bottas who did not support his team mate. Max Verstappen’s start was perfect and he was already in the lead in the first curve showing how strong his car is in this moment. At the end of the race Hamilton himself highlighted their potential.

At this moment the Red Bull-Alpha Tauri group has all the credentials to achieve their respective objectives. With Gasly’s fourth place Alpha Tauri caught up with the Alpine on the ladder while Red Bull (with first and third places) took itself to only one point from Mercedes.

Considering the current situation it was a positive result for Ferrari. With fifth and sixth places Leclerc and Sainz overtook McLaren to take third place. In this moment Norris and Ricciardo do not have a high performance car as they did in the first part of the season, finishing the race with only one point to their credit (tenth place by Norris).

We await four very interesting races of which two (Qatar and Saudi Arabia) are without any history as they are about to host Formula 1 for the first time.

Gian Carlo Minardi

 

F1 | GP USA, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RACE RUN ON THE EDGE OF HUNDREDTHS OF A SECOND. VERSTAPPEN HAS MATURED”

One of the best if not the best grand prix of the season with two drivers who crossed the finish line with a gap of less than a second after fifty six laps. It was a race that was run on hundredths of a second. On one part of the track Mercedes was faster while on the other it was Red Bull. Congratulations also to the organizers to bring to 400,000 people to the circuit over the three days, setting the new record.

Congratulations also to Red Bull that got all the strategies right with Verstappen who showed once again that he wants to win this title at all costs. The friction with Hamilton helped him grow and mature. Once more he worked to bring home the best result possible, the win.

The excellent work by Red Bull was completed by third place with Perez who, as a good wingman, did not attack Verstappen at the start and ended the race with an “off” Valtteri Bottas. He will go to Mexico strengthened by this result, as well as having helped the team in the constructors’ ladder.

The result was also a good omen for Ferrari with Leclerc and Sainz placing their cars ahead of their direct rivals, McLaren.

Two precious points also for Tsunoda on the Sunday that saw the retirement of his team mate Gasly but above all for both the Alpines, the direct rivals for fifth place. A thrilling end of the season can be expected with duels raced on the edge of a few points.

Yet again absurd strategy by Alfa Romeo denied Giovinazzi the satisfaction of entering the points zone in favour of Sebastian Vettel. Antonio had the pace to take the pint but once again the team wanted to favour Raikonnen who made a mistake at the end.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP TURKEY, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “VERSTAPPEN AND HAMILTON CAN BE SATISFIED”

Valtteri Bottas finally managed to fully respect  Mercedes’ programme, in other words to take points away from Max Verstappen, and helped the team to win heavy points for the constructors’ ladder that it continues to lead ahead of its direct rivals Red Bull. As a professional he carried out his job by taking an important win despite it being the final act of his adventure with Mercedes, In the near future it will certainly be hard for him to achieve these results again.

It was a very positive second place for Max Verstappen. On paper he was supposed to be the favourite but Red Bull certainly did not shine. It was a grand prix of the number two drivers. Just like Bottas, Perez achieved his task by completing the podium by putting his Red Bull ahead of both Leclerc and Hamilton.

On this Sunday the British driver was not perfect, even if fifth place must be seen in a positive way considering the penalty of ten places on the grid. The two contenders for the title can be satisfied. Only six points separate one from the other.

It was a positive weekend for Ferrari as well that consolidated third place amongst the constructors. Leclerc brought home the best result possible, making excellent times, as did Carlos Sainz, the protagonist of a good comeback. The Spaniard was the protagonist of many overtakes. Too bad for yet another mistake during a pit-stop that cost him one position at least. In all the track conditions they have confirmed they are the third force behind Mercedes and Red Bull.

It was a quiet weekend for McLaren that had to settle for Norris’ seventh place while the gamble adopted by Ricciardo did not give the hoped for results.

Despite the penalty, which I believe was correct, Gasly brought home more points for Alpha Tauri by finishing the Turkish GP in sixth place. He must be careful however because I have seen him too nervous in recent races. His points are essential for the team condisering Tsunoda’s current difficulty.

After being excluded from Q3, just like Raikonnen, Antonio Giovinazzi just missed out on the points by finishing in eleventh place ahead of his team mate.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP TURKEY, GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RELIABILITY THE REAL NEEDLE OF THE SCALE”


We have entered the final part of the season and the last seven grands prix, as planned, will be in the search for reliability. All the teams that have taken advantage to the fullest all three of the units are evaluating which will be the lesser evil: not incurring a penalty and running the risk of not finishing the race or attempting a comeback from last place on the grid by mounting the fourth power-unit.

 In Red Bull and Mercedes this choice was made in Russia with an excellent result for Max Verstappen who managed to recover up to second place also thanks to the arrival of the rain. Due to its characteristics, the Istanbul track could also favour this solution. Certainly Lewis Hamilton is on early warning after the problems suffered by Bottas and Latifi.

Even Ferrari opted for this solution by choosing the change for Sainz’s car. They are working a lot on the new engine in light of the next ban.

On the compounds front, Pirelli brought the C2-C3-C4 compounds but the organizers have cleaned the asphalt with hot water together with a strong jet making the asphalt more abrasive. This could lead to a race with two pit-stops rather than just one.

The challenge between McLaren and Ferrari for third place restarts with the team from Maranello in front of its rivals by a point. Red Bull will honour the partnership with Honda with a fully revamped livery. We expect an interesting grand prix on both the spectacle and technical sides. Friday morning’s practice could already give us the first confirmation.

Gian Carlo Minardi

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