Minardi’s gallant but largely fruitless stay at the wrong end of the Formula 1 pitlane began at the 1985 Brazilian Grand Prix, some 30 years ago
Writer Peter Higham
Faenza-based truck dealer Giancarlo Minardi had been an amateur rally driver before launching the Scuderia del Passadore Formula 2 team in 1972. Renamed Scuderia Everest two years later, it also entered Giancarlo Martini in a Ferrari 312T for two non-championship F1 races in 1976. Minardi turned F2 constructor in 1980 and Michele Alboreto provided the highlight with victory at Misano in 1981.
The team graduated to F1 four years later with a single car for Pierluigi Martini, who would go on to start 102 races for the small Italian concern. Although it did not have the resources to challenge better-funded teams, there were brief moments of glory. Most notably, Martini led a lap of the 1989 Portuguese GP and qualified on the front row at Phoenix at the start of 1990, driving the Aldo Costa-designed M189 on both occasions.
Its best placing in the championship for constructors was seventh, in 1991, during a single season with Ferrari power. Minardi also introduced some notable talent to Grand Prix racing, because Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella, Alessandro Nannini, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber all made their F1 debuts with the team.
Briefly in partnership with BMS Scuderia Italia owner Beppe Lucchini, Giancarlo Minardi eventually sold his team to Australian aviation entrepreneur Paul Stoddart in 2001. The Minardi name remained on the entry list for another five seasons, before Stoddart sold out to Red Bull. That Sebastian Vettel won the 2008 Italian GP for the renamed Scuderia Toro Rosso would have been unthinkable during Minardi’s 20 years of F1 struggle.