While Formula 1 is ready for the stop in Mexico City for the nineteenth round of the world championship, the Circus is wondering about the future of the Sprint race. Created in 2021 to increase the spectacle, particularly in the programme for Saturday, up to now the mini-GP of 100km has failed to meet expectations.

As often happens on these occasions, they seek alternative solutions aimed at improving the show. Among the ideas there would be the use of an inverted starting grid, the creation of a championship apart with points and a dedicated prize pool as an “incentive” for the drivers. We wanted to ask Gian Carlo Minardi what he thinks about it.

The sprint-race was created with the intention of increasing the show. Today this expectation has been strongly unsatisfying. At this moment the format does not help. It is only a lesser copy of the Grand Prix, without adding anything more as we saw in the last two rounds in Qatar and Austin,” commented Minardi.

The sixth and last sprint-race of 2023 will take place at the Brazilian Grand Prix. “There also needs to be a constant weekend programme, without having to go crazy remembering the format for the single grand prix.

“Furthermore, the sprint creates another problem. Only one hour of free practice for setting up the cars is too little, especially when thousands of a second make the difference from one qualifying session to another.

“When a driver lowers his visor the only goal is the win. I do not believe that there is any driver who saves himself with a view to the Sunday race. For this reason, I do not see the need to having to add a separate prize pool, or dedicating a ranking to it,” continued the manager from Faenza.

“Perhaps they can increase the points up for grabs, but at the moment I do not have the recipe. We are faced with an incredible domination on the part of Red Bull which will be hard for the rivals to end. Let us not forget that the history of Formula 1 is full of winning cycles. It is part of this sport. And you certainly will not stop it by creating a separate championship or putting mind blowing figures up for grabs.

“Now we get to the Mexican Grand Prix, I do not think there are any doubts on the leadership, but all the interest will be directed behind Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

“In front of his public, Sergio Perez must find the proper peace of mind. I was left very annoyed with the booing aimed at Verstappen by the American public. I hoped that fanaticism was part of other sports. I hope that they will be more gentlemanly in Mexico.

“In Austin, McLaren completed its comeback at Aston Martin’s expense, while Ferrari took its gap from Mercedes to 22 points (aided by Lewis Hamilton’s disqualification).

“The challenge will be between these four teams, each one with its own objective to achieve. We will wait and see who will be the most skilled. It will also be interesting to follow Alpha Tauri which comes from a very favourable GP in Austin,” concluded Gian Carlo Minardi.

Historic Minardi Day | Interview with Gian Carlo Minardi

June 25 will be an important day in the history of the Minardi Team. At the “Dino e Enzo Ferrari” Circuit of Imola will go on stage the Historic Minardi Day, a whole day dedicated to the history of the stable from Faenza founded by Gian Carlo Minardi which went onto the world scene for more than twenty years.  The cars from Formula 2 and Formula 3 will also be on the track, along with the single-seaters from Faenza. The show, anyway, won’t take place just along the almost 5 kms of the track. All the fans will have the chance to meet the drivers and  enter into the Paddock and garage area  where 21 car models of the Minardi Team will be exhibited (from the M185 to the PS05),  ten Toro Rosso cars and some unique and historical pieces like the F3 Chevron-Toyota B38 of Elio De AngelisThere will be DJ music and good cuisine.

Thus, we have reached Gian Carlo Minardi and asked him what to expect in the historical Minardi Day.

Minardi.it meets Giovanni Lavaggi

He was 26 years old when debuted in Motor Sports and 35 years old when  raced his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, then joined the court of Gian Carlo Minardi. In his prize record there is also a victory in the 24 hours of Daytona and the fact of having designed and built a LMP1 as a private.

A week before the new F1 World Championship starts, Minardi.it met Giovanni Lavaggi. “Honestly, I don’t really follow the World Cup. In my opinion, races are not interesting or attractive. Unfortunately, you count overtakings with the dropper. The duels that have made great this sport are extinct and the cars seem too complicated to me”.

Let us step back to 1996, the German GP, when you debuted at the wheel of the M196 pushed by Ford.
It has been an amazing experience. In spite of the economic difficulties faced by the team at that time, I find great professionals. The frame of the car was really outstanding, and this is not a joke. The engine was the Achilles heel. In addition to paying penalty on the power front, reliability was really lacking. I broke seven engines during six weekends. The Motor-show in Bologna where we risked winning against Benetton and Ligier proves how much the car frame was good.

What did you lack to stay longer in the World Championship? Certainly an economic support. Since the beginning, I had to make ends meet through my own efforts. In those years, Sicily Region would had the means to support me because I was the only Sicilian driver in Formula 1, unfortunately this cooperation did not materialize.

Once as today, there was a dominating team. Yesterday Williams, today Mercedes. Cycles that repeat forever. With a difference, today smaller teams can count on engines that are equals to the official ones. At that time, we used to pay also 180 HP minus than the official ones, almost 25%. Hence it was impossible to fight on equal terms with the others, in spite of a very good frame as the result in Budapest proves. In a circuit where the engine was less crucial, I managed to end in the top ten.

In 1995, you won the 24 Hours of Daytona. What difference did you see between Europe and USA? I can’t say to have lived the American experience entirely because I was racing with a semi-official Porsche team, whose cooperation with the company in Stuttgart has been continuing since 1989. I also raced three editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I must say that the greater difference is in the drivers. In Europe, their level is higher.

After F1, you took part in slick tires and then designed and built a LMP1.  After the experience in F1 it was difficult to find new incentives to go on, so I decided to create a team, we raced with a Ferrari 333 and got some important results with podia and victories as in the 1000 Km in Monza and Magny-Course. At a certain point, I had with me also Gaston Mazzacane who then, in 2000, came into Minardi. When Ferrari decided not to let me have some spare parts in time, I thought to do by myself. That was the first step that led me to design and make a LMP1 privately. I knew that it would not have been an easy challenge. Gian Carlo himself, with who I have maintained a good friendship, had warned me, but I have always liked missions impossible, also because I would have fought with Audi, Peugeot etc.

Despite the tight financial resources, the car was good, easy to drive and had a great potential. At the end of 2006, we were only 2″ from pole. Simultaneously with the economic crisis, we had to face the changes of regulations requiring major investments. An impossible condition for a private. We went on until 2009. Occasionally I take part in historical races, and I happened to share the cabin with Emanuele Pirro.

Minardi.it meets Giancarlo Fisichella "It all started in Faenza"

The F1 World Championship is ready to raise the curtain with the first session of collective tests on Barcellona’s track. Waiting to see the new single-seaters in action, www.minardi.it has had the pleasure to meet Giancarlo Fisichella who is just back from the 24 Hours of Daytona with his Ferrari 488 GTE. We continue our path with the drivers who contributed to make Minardi a great team, writing important pages of its history. The driver from Rome started his long career in Faenza.

Let’s step back to 1995, you were a Minardi tester, and you became an official driver the following year. How your first contact with Gian Carlo Minardi occurred?
In 1993 I was coming from a good season in F3. At that time, I was sponsored by Marlboro, as the Minardi Team. At the end of the season, Gian Carlo made me try Formula 1 on the Fiorano track. A dream came true. From F3 to F1. I did a very good test, and in 1995 I became a tester for Faenza.

Would you tell us something about your debut season: eight Gp and an eight place in Canada.
In 1996 I should have been a tester/third driver. Ten days before the Australian Gp, I received an unexpected call by Gian Carlo to tell me I would have raced as a official driver. I was in seventh heaven because Taki Inoue was going to race. It all started from there. I was a F1 driver. It was a good season, even if we had some reliability trouble. Undoubtedly, the Minardi Team was a good entity.

What has  Gian Carlo Minardi taught you ? What did you learn in his team?
It was a very important experience. Thanks to Minardi, I fulfilled my dream becoming a Formula 1 driver. I still remember my first briefing. I was in the same room along with my idols, Schumacher, Berger, and Alesi. I’ll never forget that moments.

In your opinion, what was Gian Carlo’s key strength point during his  years in F1. A small team that achieved 340 GP.
A small entity that was able to go on thanks its forces and to Gian Carlo’s passion. They struggled against colossuses and official manufacturers just to stay in the Circus. Within the team I met extraordinary engineers and mechanics. I really felt at home. Gian Carlo is a person who has the passion for this sport in his heart.

As many other talented drivers, your career started in Faenza. Unfortunately, today Italy has no standard-bearers in F1.
Unfortunately, today more than ever, what it counts are the budgets that a driver can bring with him. Entering F1 is very difficult. Ferrari has conducted the FDA project since some year, and I am sure the next driver will come from this program. Without that tragic weekend in Japan that tore us Jules Bianchi, today he would have been in a top team. There are many interesting names like Fuoco, Giovinazzi, and Ghiotto, just to name the first three.

Your great career began in Faenza among Jordan, Benetton, Sauber, Renault, Force India, and Ferrari. 231 GP and 275 points. Who was the toughest among your team-mates?
Undoubtedly, Fernando Alonso, strangely enough a driver grown in Minardi. Together we won two titles with Renault.

Besides Minardi, also Flavio Briatore had an important role in your career. Could you make a comparison between these two leading people in motorsport?
Gian Carlo is surely the most important person because he gave me the opportunity to debut in Formula 1. In 1997, after the test at Estoril, Briatore put me under agreement and he initially put me in the hands of Jordan. They are two important people who wrote important pages of the history of this sport. They have been two great managers who have discovered great drivers.

At Ferrari side, you migrated to endurance races and, among other things, you won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the marathon par excellence, twice. What does it means to a driver?
We are talking about the most important race. It is incredible, exciting and really hard. Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans is something unique. This year, I am going to chase a third victory with the Ferrari 488.

This year, the GP in Azerbaijan is contemporary with Le Mans. Is it for chance or is It a Mr. Ecclestone strategic move? Do you agree with the fact that a F1 driver takes part to Le Mans?
Last year I was pleased to see Nico Hulkenberg winning. One should have the chance to choose. Surely this year’s conjunction is a pity.

The new Ferrari 488  debuted with you in Daytona. What are the key strengths of this car compared to the 458 Italia one, and what are your expectations for the season?
There have been some improvements in the grip, in the aerodynamic, in the driving possibilities and in the impact absorbing structure in the curb passages.
Unfortunately, in Daytona we were penalized by BOP. This year I’ll be with Risi Competizione, along with Toni Vilander, a driver with whom I am very familiar because we won together at Le Mans. He is an extraordinary driver with a great experience in endurance. I hope to win the championship, starting from the next event: the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid-March.

Paolo Barilla, a F1 driver and a successful entrepreneur.The interview

In addition to be a known Italian entrepreneur, Paolo Barilla has also been a driver. He defended the colors of the Minardi Team in both  F2 and F1 before winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and he took part in the Dakar. The next World F1 Championship is ready to start with the first official tests in Barcelona, and minardi.it has met Paolo to recall his past in Motorsport and talk about the current situation of the Circus.

In the last years Formula 1 has lost many important brands. Is it still a good investment?
In this moment, it is not. Formula 1 is an outdated standard because it hasn’t moved with the times. Bernie Ecclestone and the CVC fund, which handle the business, don’t do what it takes to relaunch it.

What do you mean?
Men born with a certain background and they build a system based on their culture and experience. His time is over. We can use architecture as an instance. Today, if you want build something you have to know the latest energy technologies, you have to put style and design together with technology innovation. Ecclestone was an excellent seller of a product the marketing of which in the 80’s was mainly done by Philip Morris in a masterful way. With the prohibition of advertising on the cars the commitment is decreasing. Today, Red Bull is trying to do something similar, but in a different and less impacting way.

Over the last few years, the grand prix recorded a decline of interest.
We are in the video games era, and their sales volume is staggering . Why should a guy stay in front of tv for almost two hours to see a show where nothing happens, when he can be the real protagonist in a motorsport or adventure game? Wouldn’t it be more useful involve the young audience directly making it protagonist?

How we can do this?
By creating a virtual F1 World Championship, simultaneous to the real one. With the same teams, the same cars and the same calendar where the drivers are the guys chosen by the same teams.
Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull, etc. could have a virtual team. This way you would attract a very numerous audience that is also essential for sponsors. We must join our forces. The World fast changed. Let’s look Facebook, Google…

They are talking to change the rules so to improve the show.
Changing F1 isn’t an engineers’ task. They are all about numbers. In their opinion even the paint of the car is an useless weigh. It’s like to go to the restaurant with a nutritionist. I would involve some people of the show business to get some advices, I’d like to see a set designer from Hollywood. I find very limitative the idea that we can save F1 only by changing technical rules. Is it useful to have 1000 hp cars? Today we already have a very fast F1. A Pit-stop lasts 2 seconds…Sometimes I can’t even understand if tires are really replaced. Would it be possible to have fewer technicians? The cars face too fast direction changes and chicanes. They seem to run on some kind of rail without any imperfection. Everything seems very easy. None driver’s effort is transmitted, nor his quality. If we watch a MotoGp race, we can perceive all the efforts and gestures that drivers must do to enter a bend. We should work on the coefficient of adhesion.

Are the teams responsible in some way?
We have to reconsider the whole system. The audience decreases, and Ecclestone increases the GP events and brings Formula 1 in some countries without any motorsport history like Azerbaijan…As we say “He is a lemon squeezer”. He prefers squeeze the organizers and the circuits till the last drop threatening to take away the races. Unfortunately teams care just about their business. Look at Renault affair that has just presented its team: they came back as Manufacturers just because they have the status of “historical team” for guaranteed that is a slice of tv royalties. They came back through the back door without giving a stimulus to great changes.

Also this year, none italian driver will take part in Formula 1, even if many of them proved their value in the most important international championships as GP2, GP3 and European F3.
Today’s Formula 1 is too expensive for a company. It would be necessary a direct action from Ferrari and from the Federation to help these guys to grow and find an outlet in the professionalism.

Paolo’s career among engines started from karting where he has cut his teeth for 5 years before join the single-seaters and take part to Formula Abarth.“I was an autodidact meaning that I had nobody near me. I dedicate the first part of the season to the apprenticeship, but once I became acquainted with the car, I climb positions and reach the top group”.

His meeting with Raverotto in 1981 took him to Formula 3. “In the first four races I gained 28 points thanks to two successes and two podia. In the remaining races, I achieved only 12 points in as many events due to some accidents or technical problems. During that season, Gian Carlo Minardi contacted me to race with him in Formula 2 in Donington and Pergusa. However, in those years I was quite unprepared, in the sense that I was racing because I liked it, without having a clear schedule and F2 was a good target for me because it had twice the horse powers of F3. For a rookie like me the first two races were good, struggling in the middle of the group. Therefore, the following year I decided to continue with the Minardi Team, that Pirelli had started to support. Therefore, the season glided away anonymously. I wanted to become a professional driver and so I passed to the prototypes and then I went in Japan with F3000”.

In 1987 his friend Pierluigi Martini called him to race with him in F3000.“The previous season, Piero had emerged with an unofficial Ralt. Therefore, the preconditions were good”. However, something didn’t work at the start of the championship. “The car is not up to expectations and we can’t understand why. In the season, we realize by chance that the frame lacked some part of the tank rib. A very curious construction mistake. They fix the frame, and we are immediately ahead of everybody, even ahead of the official Ralt. Unfortunately, during the race our car stops to work due to a structural failure”.

In 1989 Gian Carlo called you to substitute Martini in F1.
Formula 1 was my dream, and when Minardi called me to substitute the injured Martini I immediately accepted. Moreover, we raced in Suzuka, a circuit I knew like the back of my hand. Unfortunately, the cockpit does not fit me, because it was built for Piero. In qualifying I am able to do just a run due to my aches, while in race the clutch broke. In retrospect, maybe it has been better that way.

The following year, you are in couple with Martini with the M190.
Also the new car was too small for my height. The season started uphill, but I decided to continue anyway. We got some good results, but the tires were the bigger trouble.
In that moment, Pirelli wasn’t capable to supply all its teams with the same qualitative level, especially favoring Alesi’sTyrrell. In Japan I had cooperated with Bridgestone in the development of F1 tires, therefore I had an excellent know-how and I was able to realise if there were something wrong since the first laps. Moreover, during winter tests in Estoril with the old car, I raced 3” faster than in the racing weekends of the following year. Unfortunately, Pirelli has never declared this fact openly. The season finished ingloriously.

How do you judge your experience in the World championship?
It was a fabulous and extraordinary experience. In those years my goal was F1. If I hadn’t achieved it, I would have missed something. Then, I understood that environment wasn’t for me because it doesn’t reflect my personality. To stay in F1 you have to be very determined, ready for anything. You must make sure that all listen to you, keeping the tension high within the team, as Senna or Piquet did.
In a recent interview, Piquet declared that he had attacked several times Mansel about personal facts with the sole aim to destabilize him and take off his concentration. If we come nowadays, Vettel has been very hard with Webber. I see in Verstappen the same determination. He seems to say “Get out of the way, I am coming”.

You also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans
At endurance races I was always good. Also the environment was definitely different. My personality doesn’t tend to bully the others, I work together with my teammates to get our common goal.

…And you took part to several Dakar editions.
It was a pleasant and magical experience, especially in Africa. I took part to different editions without any ambition. We just wanted to reach the finish line and live that experience in the best way.

Minardi.it meets Luca Badoer "Minardi, an extraordinary team principal"

Luca Badoer’s career counts 32 grand prix, from 1995 to 1999, and a big regret linked to the European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring circuit. We continue our meetings with the drivers who contributed to write the history of the Team founded by Gian Carlo Minardi. We recalled along with Luca his experience in Faenza, but we also talked about his engagement at the wheel of the Prancing Horse.

In 2010 you announced your retirement, after 12 years as a Ferrari tester. Do you still have some contacts with Maranello? And, what do you do now?
In 2010 I announced my retirement as a tester, but I continued my cooperation with Maranello in the following four years. I was engaged in the development of the GT car. I have been working in my family company since last year.

Let’s step back. In 1994 you become a Minardi tester and the following year you were promoted to official driver. Why did you chose the team in Faenza? What impressed you?
First of all it was an Italian team and Gian Carlo Minardi was passionately experiencing Formula 1. Surely it was a good opportunity to me in view of ’95. As a matter of fact we achieved some good results. I was still young and I had the opportunity to learn a lot. It was a positive experience.

After 5 years, in 1999 you came back in Faenza.
In that moment I was under agreement with Ferrari as a tester. Gian Carlo wanted me strongly with him and this greatly made me pleased. I was very happy to be back in Faenza. Once again it was a positive year.

…All fans remember a “cursed” European grand prix. You were in the fourth place, few laps from the finish line.
It’s one of those events you can’t forget. We were fighting for the podium,  unfortunately the gearbox broke just few laps from the checkered flag. We could have achieved a sensational result to a small team. Moreover, we all know that only the top six were able to get some points in those years…

What did you think at that time? What did Gian Carlo Minardi tell you in the pit?
I don’t remember, but it was a common tragedy that I experienced in first person. We were doing an extraordinary race. It was a body blow.

A victory would have been able to change your F1 career?
It’s hard to say so. You build your F1 career with the first choices and I wasn’t very lucky. I debuted with Scuderia Italia with a disastrous car that probably prevented my path. The podium at Nurburgring ’99 would have helped me, but I was already a Ferrari tester. My path was already marked.

You raced with Scuderia Italia, Minardi, Forti, and Ferrari. What is the strong point of the team from Faenza that you best remember?
I remember the team from Faenza as a little, but well organized, and passionate stable. Gian Carlo Minardi was an extraordinary team principal. Even now, I meet him with great pleasure.

In 2009 you took Felipe Massa’s place at the wheel of the F60 during the Valencia Grand Prix. An Italian driver was at the wheel of the Red in a grand prix: was it a dream coming true?
Yes, a dream that became a nightmare very soon…

What difficulties did you find?
I was coming from a seven months break because they started to ban the tests. I wasn’t familiar with the F60, a difficult and scarcely competitive car. The kers had just been introduced. Ultimately, I don’t feel guilty because who took my place didn’t do better than me. It was a difficult car and you needed to do a lot of test to well understand it.

Also this year no driver represents Italy in F1, even if they there are many Italians in the most important international championships like GP2, GP3 and European F3. Why, in your opinion?
It’s hard to answer because I am not the right person for this. Surely, it is sad not to have any Italian protagonist in the championship.

Do you think we need a team like Minardi to bet on young people?
Definitely. We especially need a person like Gian Carlo Minardi who used to bet on young people. He wasn’t afraid to bet on novices.

What do you think about today’s Formula 1?  Do you agree with the testing prohibition that makes everything virtual?
If I could I would liberalize tests. We are talking so much about a costs decrease, but at the same time they compel the teams to buy these innovative simulators and expensive softwares. Sometimes, they make some decisions too lightly. It’s always better to test directly on the track. In my F1 career I did 135.000 km, 32.000 of which just in a season.

Minardi.it meets Pierluigi Martini

By virtue of his past, he is the icon of Minardi F1 Team. He led his M185, the first single-seater signed by the team from Faenza, to debut. He achieved the first world point in the US GP of 1988 and raced 104 in 120 Grand Prix, alongside Gian Carlo Minardi. We are speaking of Pierluigi Martini whose prize list also shows his win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999. He has continued the couple Minardi-Martini of the 70s when his uncle Giancarlo raced in Formula 2 for Passatore and the Everest stable that belonged to a very young Minardi.

I had known Minardi since I was a boy because I attended my uncle’s races in Formula Italia and Formula 2. In 1983, precisely along with Gian Carlo, driving the Minardi-BMW F2, I achieved the second place at Misano after winning also Formula 3 title. He wanted me at his side for his debut to Formula 1 in 1985”, Pierluigi Martini remembers on Minardi.it. “It was an experience as difficult as important because being the sole driver all the responsibilities were on my shoulders. Anyway, that was a positive season because even if I was a novice, we achieved the eight place in Australia. According to today’s score, this result would have gave us the first world points. At the end of season our paths diverged. I came back to F 3000 and I conquered the second place of the Intercontinental World Championship in 1986. Then, with great pleasure, Gian Carlo called me back by his side for the Detroit grand prix in 1988. I repaid his confidence with the first world point thanks to the sixth place. A wonderful relationship started and lasted till my retirement from F1 in 1995, with just a parenthesis in ’92 with the Scuderia Italia. After a break, the vitory arrives at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with BMW in 1999”.

How would you describe the “romagnolo” Gian Carlo Minardi?
He is a unique person. Thanks to a bit of “temerity”, which is a result of intelligence and passion for this sport, he built something that is really incredible for Romagna. He has been able to launch a lot of drivers, and also top level engineers and mechanics. Nobody is like him.

Do you have any anecdote related to its figure to tell us?
Now no special anecdote comes to my mind. Surely, we are talking about a person that was very attentive to observe the group and protect it from external attacks. A great family man.

What teachings have you gained with Minardi Team?
Having raced with teams like the Scuderia Italia, Williams and BMW at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Master GP, I have realized and appreciated the organization of Minardi team. When you are in F1 with restricted resources, you learn to optimize your force and synchronize all your sections. Without any doubt, I can affirm that Minardi Team was really a great stable, a perfect one. It lacked only the engine. Contrary to what happens now, in those years an “old” engine was able to pay also 200 hp compared to competition.

We know that engineer Chiti used to call you “Little Pheasant”. How does this funny nickname come from?
He used thisnickname to gain sympathy and to hide from the “blunders” that he committed. With that nickname he usually tried to defuse a difficult situation.

Along with Morbidelli, you have been the very first driver to have a Ferrari Client engine. Which aspect of the engine from Maranello impressed you ?
Unfortunately, that engine was born to match an automatic transmission, which we lacked at that time and so it created problems with the clutch. The sound was certainly great, but to become protagonists it would have been nicer to have the appropriate reliability.

Speaking with you, the incredible accident in Monza in 1993 comes to our mind. What happened and what Minardi told you in the pit?
At that moment, I was protecting my seventh place. Up to 10 laps to go I was in fifth position, but the breaking of the fifth gear made me loose some positions. I tried to defend myself from the attack of Christian and I moved on the right, but he followed me. I then heard the hit at the rear. With its wing he touched my rear wheel. Not seeing him anymore in my mirrors, I thought the worst. The returning lap was quite difficult. I was afraid he were finished among the audience. Fortunately, everything went out for the best for him. Even in that circumstance, Gian Carlo has been very good at handling the situation. The telemetry pointed out that I had not committed any impropriety. Therefore, the fact was dismissed as a racing accident.

With which driver you founded a special friendship, and who has been the harder competitor?
I founded a deep friendship with Paolo Barilla. With all the others, I had a great esteem and a healthy rivalry. The harder was JJ Lehto during my period in the Scuderia Italia.

104 F1 grand prix with Minardi Team. What have been the memorable moments?
I had  lot of good times. From the first world point in Detroit, to the lap ahead of everybody in Portugal, or the fourth place in Estoril in 1991. The times spent to develop the car along with engineers Tredozi and Costa are memorable. In those years, the chronometer was the only thermometer to judge developments. When you found the right direction, it was a great satisfaction.

The most difficult times?
Without any doubt, the demise of Ayrton Senna that convinced me to end my F1 adventure the following year. I would add some accidents: at Nurburgring, Montecarlo and Imola when I broke my leg.

You have mentioned Ayrton Senna.
He was the greatest driver that I had the pleasure to meet. He was always able to bring out the best from the team. He gave the 120% and was able to involve the all group urging it to give its 110%.

Due to your strong relationship with the team from Faenza, and to the fact of belonging to Romagna, were you involved in the choice of your team-mate?
Minardi made his choices. He was always looking for drivers who could put me in trouble. This made me a bit angry  but at the same time, it was a great stimulus.

Did you use to enter the factory to talk with the engineers and see “the birth” of the machines?
I lived in the factory. I liked very much to see the engineers’ work on the car. From there you could take off 2-3 tenths of asecond from your lap time. Those have been fantastic years.

This year you were back under the wheel of the M186 and the M189 in Austria and in Goodwood. What did you feel in those moments?
I realized how we were crazy to run at 300 km/h with those cars. However, I feel like the time hadn’t stopped. I immediately felt comfortable. I drove the M186 just during a test and I must say that it is an extraordinary, competitive and well-balanced car. With a Cosworth engine it would have gave a great satisfactions to the team.
The M189 was a customized car that gave us two fifth and two sixth places, the first row in America and the head of the race in Portugal. It has been pleasant come back in the cockpit.

In the last months you have anticipated us the project of a Minardi-Day. We know that now a great expectation is growing among true enthusiasts. What can you tell us, are preparations going on?
Along with Minardi, I am working to prepare the program, also asking advice for costs. The period should be at the end of June, but we will know something more only next months. Our aim is to bring back at Imola all the single-seaters built by Gian Carlo, with other F1 cars. Our intention is to recreate the old amazing and memorable atmosphere.

Minardi.it meets Alessandro Nannini

Five years together. From Formula 2 to Formula 1. We are talking about the duo Minardi-Nannini. In this end of year, we had the pleasure to meet Alessandro Nannini, who very kindly went back to the 80s for a moment and answered our questions. From the first meeting with Gian Carlo Minardi till the arrival at F1 World Championship.

Hi Alessandro, to start this interview let’s come back to the mid-80s. When was the first contact with Gian Carlo Minardi?
The first contact with Gian Carlo Minardi was in 1982, when he proposed me the wheel of his Minardi F2 next to Paolo Barilla, after my win in Abarth Formula. On the whole, I spent with Gian Carlo 5 years: I raced three F2 and two F1 seasons.

In 1986 you, a very young boy, joined Minardi team, and  remained even in 1987. Two difficult seasons characterized by many retreats.
Two years characterized by troubles due to Motore Molteni, especially turbo complications. The chassis was good, unlucky the Achilles’heel was the engine, designed by an engineer that I personally consider a real genius. A lot of retreats. The lack of reliability has been a pity. Anyway, the years spent along with Minardi Team have been extraordinary, even more beautiful than my period with Benetton. After all, we are talking about a manager who discovered and launched the best drivers of the last years.

What impresses you in a man from Romagna like Gian Carlo Minardi?
I am “in love” with Gian Carlo. No one has his passion for this sport and he is a real talent to find out drivers. He loves engines. In the last 20 years he has discovered the most talented drivers, as their curricula demonstrate.

The most difficult time of your period at Minardi?
There aren’t. Unfortunately, the engine wasn’t up to expectations, even if , as I said, it was designed by an excellent engineer. The car chassis, instead, was good.

As a Minardi driver,  you faced Cesaris and Campos. Who has been the harder opponent?
Luckily I had a very heavy right feet, and putting myself behind Andrea has been a good business card.

Among Boutsen, Pirro, Herbert and Piquet?
Piquet, three times world champion. From him I learned a lot about the improvement of a car. You can’t win three titles for chance.

We have also a question by a fan of yours. Is there an event that you especially remember?
There would be too many episodes to tell. As I said, those were really amazing years, I got a true fun, I met a lot of girls and, along with Paolo Barilla (F2) we made a lot of mess. As a matter of fact, year after year, we had trouble finding hotels because they didn’t want us as customers.

In 1997 you retired. What do you do now?
Sometimes, I lead the way with Subaru. After spending a lot of time on track, now that I am 56 years old , I am attracted to the soil. But I do it occasionally.

Do you watch Formula 1?
Honestly? Not so much. I watch the start.. and then the end. But it has always been the same. Let’s say I prefer to drive than watching races on tv.

Minardi.it meets Gianni Morbidelli

He has just closed his TCR International Series season with Honda Civic, but he defended the colors of Minardi Team in Formula 1 World Championship from 1990 to 1992. Minardi.it has met Gianni Morbidelli just back from Argentine to relive those years along with Gian Carlo Minardi and his boys.

After joining Scuderia Italia, you made your debut with Minardi in 1990 during the US Grand Prix that was preparatory to entire 1991 season.
The two last grand prix of 1990 season were the prelude to two beautiful years with Gian Carlo Minardi. It was like a family life with true human relationships. I had the opportunity to learn a lot and to grow professionally. From the point of view of results, we had some difficult races because we lacked reliability. In qualifying we could safeguard ourselves at first thanks to Ferrari and then to Lamborghini engines, but during the race we have always had a lot of problems due to reliability. M191 was the first car signed by a very young Aldo Costa who proved all his value in Mercedes, and with whom I have maintained a wonderful relationship. In 1991 he managed a difficult very long 12-cylinder which also created some twisting complications on the frame.

You spent with Gian Carlo Minardi’s team also ’92 season. Which moment do you remember more pleasantly?
The Mexican Grand Prix was one of the most beautiful one, I closed in seventh and missed the point zone just for a place. Unfortunately, unlike today, points were assigned in dribs and drabs at that time. Qualifying in Imola is another pleasant memory: Pierluigi Martini faced me till death, tenth after tenth, and we both gained the top 10. One can’t forget the excellent cuisine of Minardi. Drivers from other teams used to come and eat under our pavilion. I have maintained a good relationship with many of them and particularly with Luca Zama.

The most difficult moment?
It is linked to a tragicomic event. During qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, I destroyed my Minardi due to an incomprehension with Jean Alesi. Into the pits, Gian Carlo made me get on the spare car to end my session. Then the suspension stopped to work and I crashed again. At that point, from the radio, Gian Carlo Minardi told me:” come back, but don’t hurry up, after all we are short of cars”. Even in the most difficult moments, he has always been able to defuse tensions with a joke or an adage from Romagna.

How did the Circus change your life?
In that period I had a double visibility, I was a first-string for a F1 team, and I was also a Ferrari test driver. The fame and all the events overpowered me. I was in a kind of limbo, also because I was very young. I was in the place where every guy would have liked to be. I didn’t realized what was going on. Everything was lived with enthusiasm. Instead, growing up I enjoyed the experience.

The transition period from 1991 to 1990 spectated the arrival of Ferrari engine in Faenza.
Compared to Ford…it was  totally a different world. At that time cars were constantly improved.We passed from 8 to 12-cylinder. Just because of the couple and the noise, they were two opposite “means”. 12-cylinder “sound” was a symphony. Driving it was a pleasure.

If you had to tell a particular and funny story about Gian Carlo Minardi and his Romagna?
The phrases that he was usual to say, something like “Let’s pack the violin and let’s go” or “Confident is dead”. I remember Gian Carlo’s humanity fondly. We were accustomed to eat piadina romagnola and tortellini, but once invited in Kyoto by a Japanese sponsor we had to stay in a typical Japanese hotel with all their customs and habits, from the cuisine to massages, very long ones. We laughed a lot.

You shared the pit with Martini-Fittipladi and Zanardi. Who was the nut harder to crack?
Definitely Piero Martini. A real bulldog and an integral part of Minardi team. He was fast and determined. I was an ambitious young, and he was a successful driver. He has been a great stimulus to push stronger and stronger.

You have just closed TCR International Series.
Among high and low moments. We have also led the championship, but in the second part of the season we experienced some problem with the turbo and the brakes that excluded us from the challenge for the title. Compared to others, our car was “unripe” due to a lack of kilometers. I am in an excellent relationship with the team and I have the will to continue with TCR. I hope to define my 2016 schedule by Christmas.

Minardi.it meets Gaston Mazzacane

He defended the colors of Minardi Team in 2000 season driving at the wheel of the M02-Fondmental paired with Mark Genè. His bond with the Minardi’s continues today. In European Gp he closed in eight, even if his fans especially remember his challenge with Mika Hakinen’s McLaren in Indianapolis while he was third.

Let’s go back to 2000 when you debuted in F1 with Minardi Team. When you first had a contact with Gina Carlo Minardi?
My first contact with Minardi was in 1988 at the end of my season in F3000. Along with Eduardo Ramirez and Jacques Kremer, I was called by Gian Carlo Minardi to become the third driver of his team in 1999. In addition, I competed in the European Prototypes Championship with a Ferrari of Lavaggi Team.

Why did you choose the Team of Faenza for your debut?
Thanks to Gian Carlo Minardi’s excellent business relation with Argentina, I had the opportunity to race for his team. F1 is the dream of every guy who embarks on motorsport.

What impressed you most of this this world?
Every driver considers F1 the ultimate expression of motorsport. You feel like a star. It is wonderful.

What was your best moment with Minardi?
Definitely during Indianapolis Grand Prix when I was third ahead of Hakkinen’s McLaren with the opportunity to sign an incredible result for the team

…And the most difficult one?                                                                                                                                                                                          Moving to Prost GP. It affected negatively my stay in F1. I wouldn’t had never left Minardi at the end of 2000.

Your friendship with Gian Carlo and Giovanni Minardi is still strong today. Do you have an anecdote to tell us?
That year I lived in the same apartment block of Gian Carlo and Giovanni, Gian Carlo was my second father and Giovanni a brother. Every morning with his dog, Gian Carlo came and woke me up to check if I had slept in my apartment. We are bond by a strong friendship that still goes on.

What do you do now?
After F1, I raced in Champ Car, Formula Truck and in FIA GT Championship with a Ferrari 550 GT1 of ACA Argentina. Now I am engaged in Turism Carretera Championship, the most important one in Argentina.

What is your childhood dream, and your next goals?
My dream is to keep racing with the same desire and motivation that I had when i was 5 years old and to gain excellent results in Argentina driving my Chevrolet. I am also vice-president of ACTT and CEO of the Mouras de La Plata Circuit where I work to develop the Argentine motor sports.

What do you think about today’s F1?
Today there is a lot of tedchnology in F1, but Mercedes supremacy and the lack of allure of the power units leads to fans’ estrangement. Surely, the calendar is very beautiful because we keep racing in historic circuit flanked by new and beautiful  places. I like the qualifying format and the diversity of tires that makes the GP strategic. I keep watching f1 because I am passionate about.

Cisitalia Group meets Gian Carlo Minardi

Alberto Diaz Lima (President & Owner of Cisitalia Global Group, together with the engineer  Mr. Enrique Scalabroni, were guests of Gian Carlo Minardi in Faenza. Mr. Diaz Lima is the unique depository of the glorious brand Cisitalia that in the 50s realized futuristic cars and wrote the history for its innovations. Cisitalia Group’s symbol par excellence is without any doubt the 202, driven by Tazio Nuvolari, who took the car to gain many successes, and exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 40 years.

It was a courtesy meeting and, personally, I was very pleased to share my own opinions both with President Diaz Lima and Eng. Scalabroni. In recent years, the Group has undertaken to design a modern version of the historic brand Cisitalia, as well as create a new edition of cars with construction systems of that era“, Gian Carlo Minardi says. “The 202 was a futuristic car for those years and the most famous model, becoming an icon of Made in Italy Design“.

In 2012, the new challenge was called 202 E: redesigning the sport coupé car that became a milestone in automotive history. A proof of concept, based on the study of Cisitalia 202.

Pierluigi Martini remembers Luciano Pavesi

A new grief has hit the world of motorsport: Luciano Pavesi, well-known face of the 70s in Formula 2 and Formula 3 in 1975, has died. He was awarded the title of Italian F.3 at the wheel of Brabham of Scuderia Ala d’Oro, showing his skills also in F.2, and then becoming Team Manager, participating with his own team to the F.3 and F3000 Championships.

In 1983, here comes success in European F.3 alongside of Pierluigi Martini, whose streets came together again in 1986, with the second place (just two points from the title) in the International  Formula 3000, behind Capelli. “Luciano was a beautiful person; when he was speaking, he could get immediately to the point. He was a person of few words, but always very helpful and important”, Pierluigi Martini remembers at www.minardi.it. “Luciano was the teacher and he taught me many things, not only in racing, but also in life. Wise, honest and balanced. For me, he was like a second father. Before being Team Manager, he was a very good driver, with the victory in ’75 in Formula 3. I owe him his first lessons on the development of the car “, says Martini. “In 1983, I won the title of F.3 and two years later I touched the title of F3000 with his team“.

Photo caption: Pierluigi Martini at the wheel of Pavesi Ralt RT20 Cosworth Racing #71 team in the International Formula 3000 in 1986 in Austria.

Planning the future, looking to the past

Beyond the criticism that can be done to Red Bull for the debut next year of a just 17-years-old boy, the case of Max Verstappen has certainly our approval and it led me to think about Formula 1 and its evolution. Of course, the DNA of rumours is to focus on young people, being their “market” as a brand. Then, having the possibility to rely on a satellite team like Toro Rosso is a greater incentive.

As already pointed out in previous weeks, TR could espouse a very “green” cause (with all the consequences of the case), adding the Spanish Carlos Sainz Jr to the 20-years-old Verstappen, thus trying to grow the two young pilots, in order to promoting them later in Red Bull Racing, as it happened with Vettel, Ricciardo and, perhaps, Kvyat. The Australian can be considered effectively a number 1. Therefore, now Vettel’s departure would become meaningless.

The media “tam-tam” of Verstappen-Toro Rosso led me to think aloud about the different problems of Formula 1. For example, the average age of fans is rising. This means that the “Circus” does not thrill the younger generation anymore. I see this reflection as an important alarm bell, that can’t be overlooked. How to intervene?

CIRCUIT LIKE A COUNTRY OUTING: the race weekend have to be turned into a country outing with friends and relatives. An opportunity to have fun, to party and to amuse, enjoying an amazing race with wurstel, sausage and beer. I remember that in the ’85-’86-’87 years, the appointment of Imola was prepared by “Minardi Club Faenza” since Monday, with the installation of trailers with music, watching the race together and eating “Piadina” (typical flat bread of Romagna). 2014 Spa, Silverstone and Austria were beautiful sceneries, with fields crowded again by fans. There is a return to the past, that is necessary to ride.

FINDING NEW PILOTS OF INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: it’s necessary to promote young people. The public wants to know his favourites. It might focus on tests for young pilots or dedicating them the Friday morning. Red Bull has already hit the mark with Verstappen, since the team has managed to direct all the attention on itself. In Holland, they go all crazy. A new name, perhaps still unknown to the public, is ready to make his entrance, coming directly from the International F.3. Almost as it happened in the past. It would be nice if this project were followed also by other teams, thus providing more space for talented young people. Do not forget that we are, in fact, talking about a guy who is second in raking, who fights on the track with colleagues that are equal to him. I am of course thinking about our Fuoco and Giovinazzi or about the leader, Ocon. In the past, Monte Carlo was the fixed appointment of all teams’ managers, on the occasion of F.3 race. All the best drivers confronted themselves with a demanding track. Who stood out among the narrow streets of the Principality was taken into account.

PLANNING THE CHAMPIONSHIPS: having so many categories is negative, because values are lost. In the past, the pyramid was composed by F.3-F.2-F.1 with natural selection. In these last two years, International Formula 3 has once again become the benchmark of pilots, exactly as it was in the past. Now we need an Intermediate Formula to get to F.1. The current GP2 is not reaching its goals, because of its high costs. FIA is making a great effort to rebuild a road to the “Olympus” of motor sport, starting from the new Formula 4.

I don’t want to pass as who wants to impose his own rules, but I just want to give some advice, as enthusiast and fan of this sport. We are talking about the Top category and it is not admissible to have empty or uncrowded stands. I have the feeling that people are falling out of love with Formula 1.

Gian Carlo Minardi