F1 | GIAN CARLO MINARDI “NORRIS-MCLAREN THE SURPRISE OF THE START OF THIS SEASON”

Having said goodbye to Portugal Formula 1 has moved quickly to Spain. Unlike in the past this year the Barcelona circuit did not host the winter tests and being a tough track could put the cars, drivers and tyres to the test.

We come to Montmelò after three very interesting grands prix that were certainly dictated by Mercedes’ domination but with Red Bull trying to makes its life harder. I hope that this duel will last until the end of the season and that they can continue to entertain us. Both teams want to optimize every single point, as happened during the last three laps in Portimao with the duel between Bottas and Verstappen to adjudicate the point connected to the fastest lap. They took a good risk both as drivers and the teams with the work of the mechanics. A wheel change is always a moment of high tension.

MCLAREN’S SURPRISING START. Norris and McLaren are undoubtedly the surprise of the start of this season. Lando is putting himself on show in both qualifying and the race and McLaren is adapting very well and quickly to the new Mercedes engine, a passage that is not always taken for granted having kept 75% of the 2020 chassis. At the moment I see them immediately behind Mercedes and Red Bull. Many other drivers are alternating good performances with lusterless races, such as Ocon.

COMPACTION OF THE MIDDLE OF THE GROUP. We are only at the fourth round of a very long season with a number of problems to solve dictated by the worldwide health emergency. Behind Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren there is a good compaction amongst the second tier teams, one of which is also Ferrari.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP PORTUGAL, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “BOTTAS CONFIRMS HE IS A NUMBER TWO DRIVER”

This was a grand prix that betrayed the expectations by giving us the best excitement only in the last three laps with the duel between Bottas and Verstappen for the extra point for the fastest lap. The challenge was won by the Finn, even if I find it absurd taking the time away from the Dutchman. Congratulations to both drivers and also to the mechanics. In this context it is not easy keeping the coolness necessary since a “blink of an eye” is enough to neutralize all the work.

Portugal confirmed that the battle will be between Mercedes and Red Bull with Toto Wolff’s men ahead, especially with Lewis Hamilton since Bottas for the umpteenth time showed he is a number two driver.

For its part Red Bull is trying to cancel the gap with the reigning champions. The choice of drivers has proven to be excellent with both Max and Sergio getting the most out of the car, just like the strategy was excellent when they tried everything with Perez by keeping him on the track as much as possible.

Excellent the grand prix by Norris and Ocon who showed that they are the future of this category. Ferrari lost the direct challenge with McLaren, finishing in sixth place with Leclerc and behind Lando. It was a pity for Sainz who, on the re-entry of the safety car, lost a number of places not managing to repeat the excellent start. A Ferrari that constantly paid the gap, including the 5-7 tenths per lap compared to the first places.

It was a good race also by the two times world champion Fernando Alonso. He was the protagonist of less than perfect qualifying, he recovered many positions finishing behind his team mate which contributed to bringing important points to the Alpine team. A point for Alpha Tauri as well, thanks to Gasly’s tenth place. On an unfavourable track, as emerged in the free practice, this represents a positive result, as well as continuing the positive trend.

We will be racing again in a week, arriving in Spain.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GIAN CARLO MINARDI “QUALIFYING RACE, A SYMBOL TO BE WELCOMED POSITIVELY”

Having said goodbye to Imola Formula 1 continues its journey in the old continent stopping this weekend in Portugal on the Portimao track for the third round. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are separated by only one point with a win each and I hope that this head to head could be a constant factor for all the season.

Last year Portimao entertained us like Imola did two weeks ago which shows that the “historic circuits” represent a guarantee for F1 where the unexpected is just around the corner. We are faced with a season that is particular and of transition as we await the new regulations in 2022 but also full of novelties such as the Qualifying Race (a 100km race) which will makes its debut soon at Silverstone. This is certainly an important signal that could change the panorama of F1 on both the technical and sporting sides. Important scenarios can be opened and must be welcomed in a positive way. We can draw the conclusions only after having tried it.

At Portimao it will be interesting to see the forces on the field we saw in Imola will be confirmed, beyond the supremacy between Mercedes and Red Bull with a good struggle between McLaren and Ferrari for third place. From the first grands prix a big gap between the two top teams and the rest of the group has not emerged.

Amongst this year’s novelties the teams and FIA are gaining confidence with the budget cap and the checks carried out but the rest of the idea which, even if it is an important and interesting tool, it must be changed. To really see the results it will be necessary that all the items must be included, without exception.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GIAN CARLO MINARDI “IMOLA DESERVES A FIXED SPOT ON THE CALENDAR”

Imola showed that it is second to no other circuit. The weather helped to give us a great grand prix won fully by Max Verstappen, the protagonist of a great race, as well as being one of the few not to make a mistake.

The duel with Lewis Hamilton, who was as strong as he was lucky, was very good. After his mistake the red flag and the re-start gave him a good hand but he was very skilled in coming back swiftly place by place reaching second place ahead of a very good Lando Norris who confirmed McLaren’s competitiveness.

Ferrari’s defence was very good. The fourth and fifth places by Leclerc and Sainz represent the best result possible but the team can finally count on both its drivers. Certainly Bottas was missing, in constant difficulty up to the collision with Russell. In this circumstance the Englishman was absolutely guilty since in the Finn’s attack he already held his foot and then lost control of his Williams. It was a serious mistake.

This weekend I expected something more from Alpha Tauri, even if it reached the points zone thanks to Gasly’s eighth place.

A weekend has ended; it was long but with decidedly positive implications. As a Circuit we received the compliments of the Federation and both Imola and the Motor Valley, together with the whole of the Emilia-Romagna region gave a great demonstration of their worth. Now it will be important go continue working to find a fixed spot on the calendar.

Even if it is too soon to come to a conclusion this weekend we had the confirmation of the good compaction of the performances but above all that it will all be a challenge between Hamilton and Verstappen.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 COMES TO IMOLA. GIAN CARLO MINARDI “REASON OF GREAT PRIDE TO BE TFor Gian Carl Minardi “HE FIRST IN EUROPE”

Three weeks after the opening round in Bahrain won by Lewis Hamilton after a good battle with Max Verstappen (second across the finish line) this weekend the Formula 1 Circus will land in Imola with the stopping in Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit to give life to the “Made in Italy and Emilia-Romagna GP”

For Gian Carlo Minardi this will be the first Gran Prix as the President of the Imola Circuit “Having Imola as the World Championship’s second round, the first in Europe, is a source of great pride and Emilia Romagna, together, together with the Motor Valley, its monuments and its food, is ready to relaunch the World Championship. The Grand Prix represents a great opportunity in terms of worldwide visibility and, together with the Circuit’s Director General Riccardo Benvenuti, we are also working to make this extraordinary territory known. We are grateful to all the institutions for the great effort put in place and our aim is also to consolidate Imola’s presence within the upcoming calendars

Supporting the GP will also the second round of the F2 Championship and the first round of the Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine “Starting Monday the motor homes will also start to arrive and the anti-Covid safety procedures will also begin with swabs every day to be able to gain access to the Circuit,” continued Minardi.

In these months we have worked hard with the aim of repeating, and also trying to improve, the result achieved last year. We have decided to intensify the service on the track to reduce to a minimum the neutralizations resulting from the re-entry of the safety-cay. Imola is a circuit of historical characteristics with gravel off the track where every mistake can carry a heavy price. Furthermore, given the possibility of rain the weather could be an interesting variable for the spectacle.”

On the race front the challenge for the win will be a matter between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen “Behind them however will be a good group made up of McLaren, Ferrari, Alpine and Alpha Tauri. I am convinced that Tost’s team will able to achieve a good result as happened already in Sakhir

GP BAHRAIN, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “IF THIS MERCEDES IS IN CRISIS THEN THERE IS NOTHING TO BE CALM ABOUT”

The Formula 1 season began with all the conditions for witnessing a thrilling championship. The tussle between Mercedes and Red Bull was very good with the latter confirming the positive trend of the end of the 2020 season by putting onto the track a further step forward helped by the Honda engine. Perez’s fifth place after starting from the pits is a further signal on the quality of their package.

But let’s be careful. If this Mercedes is in crisis then there is little to be calm about since they have always shown a very great capacity for reaction even if they made a mistake in the pits with Bottas, nullifying a possible double.

It is not clear what happened in the final laps with the overtake and counter overtake between Hamilton and Verstappen, also because the Dutchman was no longer able to attack the Mercedes driver. I absolutely did not like the decision of the race management to use two measures between qualifying and racing by deciding to not penalize the cut at curve 4. It is surely a terrible lesson.

We will file away a very tactical and technical first race. McLaren, which adapted very quickly to the Mercedes engine, also continues its growth by just missing out on the podium with Norris.

Despite the almost 60” delay paid in comparison to Hamilton and Verstappen Ferrari brought home a positive result, especially if compared to what happened only three months ago with Leclerc tenth a lap behind. Especially in qualifying the car has made a most important improvement even if the road is still long but positive signs can be seen.

Fabulous Yuki Tsunoda who marked his debut in the World Championship with the first two points ahead of a good Stroll. It was a decidedly negative weekend for Sebastian Vettel, the protagonist of two serious mistakes.

The World Championship will now move to the Imola track onto a demanding track that already gave us a good race last year. Too bad that it will be behind closed doors once again.

Gian Carlo Minardi
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FORMULA 1 STARTS FROM BAHRAIN. MINARDI “CRAZY STARTING AFTER ONLY THREE DAYS OF TESTS”

And here we are. Formula 1 is finally ready to start again with a season, despite it being of transition, full of new developments not only on the driver’s market but also from the technical point of view. Despite the restrictions imposed by the Federation to reduce the aerodynamic load the engineers have already shown they have made up the gap allowing the drivers to race with times that are already very close to those of 2020 despite only three days of tests.

I find it absolutely absurd that the teams have been able to enjoy only these three days of training to prepare for such a long season. They better not come and tell me that they do so for a matter of limiting the costs.

Amongst other things the budget cap will also make its debut this year which I will continue to oppose for how it has been put together. It is not at all functional. In order to make sense it must include all the expenses, without any exclusion. A team must be free to manage its assets without exclusions that still create differences. As it has been structured it does nothing for the spectacle and much less to create equality between the teams.

A season with many unknown factors starts from Bahrain and, to date, it is very hard to establish a ladder of the forces in the field, even if, as far as I am concerned, Mercedes remains the point of reference for everybody despite an uneasy start (as far as could be seen). I had an excellent impression from Red Bull and Honda, as well as Alpha Tauri. McLaren knew how to adapt the chassis very well to the new Mercedes engine. There are many young drivers at the start, with some “old men” such as the return of Fernando Alonso with Alpine’s colours and the 42 year old Raikonnen ready for a new season.

The Sakhir track hosted the third and second last rounds of the 20202 season. Therefore, we will quickly have an interesting comparison.

Let us hope that the pandemic will slow down and give the opportunity to experience a full calendar, even if it will not be easy. After Bahrain F1 will come to Europe, in Imola for the second round. However, Liberty Media has also been called to deal with another major problem, tied to the sporting and technical programmes tied to the 2025. Formula 1 must open itself to the new realities by intervening heavily on the registration fee which is absolutely too high.

Gian Carlo Minardi

GIAN CARLO MINARDI “AN ALL INCLUSIVE BUDGET CAP IS NEEDED”

The time has come for Formula 1 to sit around the table and write a completely new book without repudiating the past,” These are the first words by Gian Carlo Minardi interviewed by Minardi.it on the new course being taken by Formula 1.
Just in recent weeks the new rule freezing the Power-unit was approved, starting from 2022 until 2025. But this is not the only new development. The budget cap makes its debut this season, a major new development for the Circus.

Unlike the past, Formula 1 today costs much more compared to the return of the image that it can guarantee to a manufacturer. This certainly does not favour the entry of a new team or new manufacturers.

A major item in the teams’ budget is undoubtedly the cost of the engine. That money could be spent on the development of the car and having an even more competitive championship. If the freeze is needed to go back to square one and to find a less expensive direction that can, at the same time, open the door for new arrivals, then I am in favour of this choice,” continued Minardi.

I continue to argue that the budget cap as it has been designed is not the right road since there are much more important items (like the salary of the drivers) that have been excluded. Many limits have been inserted that necessarily create differences between the teams. If they want to put a ceiling on the costs, this must include all the items, without any exceptions. It would then be up to the team to evaluate how to best spend it, whether to get a better driver or technician, to take to the track for tests or more. In this way all the teams are put on the same level which also favours the search for sponsors. At this point the organizational and creative skills of the team itself come into play.

Formula 1 needs a breath of fresh air,” concluded Gian Carlo Minardi.

F1 | PEREZ JOINS VERSTAPPEN. MINARDI “CONGRATULATIONS RED BULL”

Precisely in light of next season Horner’s team had scored the final hit of the market by securing the services of Louis Perez who only the week before had won the Sakhir Grand prix for his first career win.

Red Bull has put together two very clever operations, securing a talented driver such as Sergio Perez and by maintaining within the staff of Albon as Red Bull’s and Alpha Tauri’s test driver.

2021 will be a year of transition towards the drastic change of regulations and it will be important to see who will manage to best exploit the few tokens available for developing the car.

They finished in growth and only they can try to annoy Toto Wolff’s German battleship, even if it will be hard to beat them with so little time available,” commented Gian Carlo Minardi at the microphone of Minardi.it

This was a major change turnaround for Red Bull that interrupted the tradition that until today had seen them choose drivers from their nursery and satellite teams. In an interview on Servus TV Marko defended Red Bull Junior Academy’s work, highlighting how the arrival of the Mexican driver in Milton Keyes was not a rejection of the Austrian team’s junior drivers’ programme, having several drivers on which to focus on in view of 2022.

One of next season’s new developments will be the debut of Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda who will join Pierre Gasly (the winner at Monza) in the Alpha Tauri pits. “He comes from a positive season in F2 and he went very well in the tests. He is a promising young driver,” emphasized the manager from Faenza.

The 2021 season will therefore start with a number of new developments. After having said goodbye to Ferrari Sebastian Vettel is about to wear the colours of the newly formed Aston Martin (formerly Racing Point) joining Lance Stroll who took Perez’s place. Carlos Sainz has already arrived at Maranello alongside Leclerc and his place at McLaren has been taken by Daniel Ricciardo who will team up with Lando Norris.

In the seat left free by the Australian driver in the renamed Alpine (formerly Renault) will be no less than the two times World Champion Fernando Alonso. There will be a completely new line-up in the Haas team. Having said goodbye to Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen the American team will field two debutants, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

In the meantime Lewis Hamilton still has to sign the renewal with Mercedes.

F1 | LECLERC-SAINZ, MINARDI “FERRARI HAS THE BEST PAIR”

Carlos Sainz wasted no time. After the adventure with McLaren he has already arrived at Maranello to prepare the seat and to get to know the men with whom he will share this adventure in Ferrari.

Maranello closed one of the worst seasons in its history not finishing above sixth place in the constructors’ ladder and the time to find a remedy is truly little, as are the tokens available to the teams to develop and improve the racing car in what will be a year of transition awaiting the change of regulations scheduled for the 2022 season.

“Ferrari is certainly experiencing a very difficult period and in these few months that separate them from the first race in Australia they will have to try and sharpen their weapons to try and leave a disastrous season behind them. Unfortunately, this is the only sport that does not require training and next year there will be only three days of tests,” commented Gian Carlo Minardi at the microphones of Minardi.it

“Binotto however will be able to count on the best pair of drivers in the circus, also in terms of yield of points. Leclerc and Sainz have all the right cards to put together good results,” continued the manager from Faenza.

2021 will also be the year of the introduction of the budget cap. “The way it has been conceived is nothing short of ridiculous. It serves no purpose except to bring about a small reduction in the team’s staff. With the possibility of three extra-budget items the top teams can allow themselves the best driver, the best engineer and the best research. If you really want to make it work you must include all the items, without exception. At that point you leave the team free to take to the track to try and spend the money as it sees fit,” concluded Minardi.

F1 | GP ABU DHABI, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “RED BULL’S WIN IS POSITIVE IN LIGHT OF 2021”

We have come to the end of a season that at the start of the year was impossible to predict but Formula 1 was united and managed to put together a good calendar with seventeen grands prix with which it was able to give us great races and major moments, all wrapped up in an incredible domination labelled Mercedes.

This final round also gave us a great emotion with Max Verstappen’s pole position and the win in front of the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton.

It was a Red Bull that grew strongly in the final part of the season which bodes well for next year. Only a few reliability problems, together with the retirement in the previous grand prix caused by Leclerc’s collision with Perez, denied the Dutchman the satisfaction of taking the title of vice-champion but at the same time this saved the reputation of Bottas who today paid a gap of 15 seconds.

Once again Hamilton showed his qualities by firmly taking third place despite a less than perfect state of health dictated by Covid-19. The situation of his contract still remains to be resolved and an eventual divorce would create a real tsunami in the circus.

This was a championship that was able to give us excellent growth by McLaren that won its duel with Racing Point for third place and a Renault on the rise as shown by the fastest lap time set by Ricciardo in the last lap.

The only sore point is this Ferrari. It failed to go beyond sixth place in the constructor’s’ ladder (never this bad since 1980). There is a lot of work to do in Maranello and very little time considering that the number of days of winter testing will be reduced to three.

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | GP SAKHIR, THE POINT BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI “A MORTAL SIN TO LOSE PEREZ. RUSSELL DID NOT MAKE US REGRET HAMILTON’S ABSENCE”

This F1 world championship never ceases to give us incredible emotions. Once again we witnessed a grand prix full of twists and turns with the final placings uncertain up to the final lap on a track that, at least on paper, could have passed into anonymity.

Leclerc’s collision with Perez, which also involved the innocent Verstappen, gave us the first spark which forced the Mexican driver to a crazy comeback that ended with his first career win.

Applause certainly goes to Perez. After his retirement a week ago and despite his uneasy position, he showed great determination and cold bloodedness. It is a mortal sin to see such a motivated and strong driver in difficulty for 2021.

The mistakes made by Mercedes during the pit stops that (almost certainly) cost Russell his first win were also incredible. After having dominated free practice on Friday he closed qualifying in second place barely 26 thousandths of a second behind Bottas. At the start he did not let himself be intimidated, taking the race lead immediately and completing the grand prix without making the slightest mistake and overtaking beautifully and decisively many times despite a situation that was not easy even for him. He did not make us regret Hamilton’s absence and confirmed he is a top class driver. He gave the answers that were expected of him. Today’s performance could make Mercedes’ President, faced with Hamilton who has not yet signed the new contract, think.

It was a pity that Leclerc and Hamilton were not in the game as well. With the departure of the driver from Monaco there was no basis with which to compare Sebastian Vettel’s absolutely disappointing performance. The German driver made a lot of mistakes. Who knows if Racing Point, next Aston Martin, is still convinced of the choice made…

Gian Carlo Minardi

F1 | RUSSELL-MERCEDES, MINARDI “INTERESTING WITH AN EYE TO THE FUTURE”

We have come to the penultimate round of the world championship but there is still room for a completely new circuit for F1 with an extremely fast and short layout with lap times under a minute. It will be a complicated race with a lot of overtaking but less stressful for the tyres compared to the previous commitment.

A race that may have had little to tell us had been much more lively by the forced absence of Lewis Hamilton, stopped by the damned Covid-19, and by the “promotion” of the promising young English driver George Russell.

It will be interesting following him in this adventure, also because at the moment Hamilton has not yet signed the renewal with Mercedes since a tug of war is under way, not so much with Toto Wolff than with Mercedes’ president who is determined to strongly review all the contracts downwards in light of the budget cap.

Should Russell live up to expectations and the seven times Wold Champion not accept the conditions offered major scenarios could open up.

This round will be important also for Valtteri Bottas who is playing a big slice of credibility since in the last two races he has been dominated not only by Hamilton but also by Verstappen who is not only one point away on the ladder.

The times: 6.00pm (Italian time) Saturday for qualifying, with the start of the race at 6.10pm on Sunday 6.

Gian Carlo Minardi