F1 | United States Grands Prix, the weekend of the “first times” with Gian Carlo Minardi

We are entering into the weekend that will bring us to the eighteenth round of the calendar: the United States Grand Prix, an appointment that for the Minardi Team is synonymous with unique results that played a part in changing its history.

We are talking about Detroit 1988, the grand prix that gave the team from Faenza its first world championship point with Pierluigi Martini (sixteenth place on the starting grid) and at Phoenix 1990, again with the driver from the Romagna who placed on the front row in qualifying (out of 27 qualifiers) in the M189 with only Berger’s McLaren-Honda ahead of him and in front of De Cesaris in the Scuderia Italia, Alesi’s Tyrrell, Senna’s McLaren, Piquet’s Benetton and Prost’s Ferrari.

As we await Austin we decided to relive these two important events with the direct protagonists and today we met with Gian Carlo Minardi,

I still remember those events with extreme pleasure, beginning at Detroit. It was the season’s sixth round and we came from the Canadian Grand Prix where we once again had problems with Adrian Campos’ car, he was the official driver together with Luis Pérez-Sala,” remembers the manager from Faenza.

We needed to give the whole team a shake and, for this reason, I took the difficult decision to substitute Adrian with Piero Martini who had raced for us in the debut season in 1985. Our main sponsor was the Spanish company Lois and I notified its President of this change, assuming all the risks. Piero came to the track without having tested the M188 and anyway he managed to qualify with an excellent 1’45″048 that earned him sixteenth place, in front of drivers of the calibre of Arnoux and teams such as Tyrell and Ligier. In the race Piero climbed up to sixth place giving us our historic first world championship point. The final laps were highly charged for us, especially after Luis’ retirement with a broken gearbox. For us it was the first point after three uneasy years since our arrival in Formula 1 and marked the beginning of constant improvement. That evening we celebrated with a dinner at the top floor of the Detroit Tower, together with the main sponsor’s president who had accepted, with reservations, the substitution of Campos,” said Minardi who continued his memory up to the first grand prix in 1990.

The following year, 1989, was a better season for Minardi. The M189 constantly climbed up the starting grid finishing in the third row in the final grands prix up to the opening race of the 1990 world championship on the track at Phoenix with the front row. It was an incredible result since it was the first years of the dominance of McLaren and Williams. In the race Martini and Sala had to give way, however, they finished at the fringe of the points zone, in sixth and seventh positions”.

Staying on the theme of the Grand Prix of America, the other result that deserves a mention is Indianapolis 2005, even if it is a story to itself. Together with Ferrari and Jordan, we honoured the presence since the Bridgestone tyres did not have the problems that on the other hand stopped the cars with Michelin tyres, crossing the finishing line in fifth and sixth positions with Albers and Friesacher,” concluded Minardi.