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Avanti Minardi!

Stuart Garlick has written the definitive article about “Minardi-cool” – it’s over on PitPass dot com and thoroughly recommended for its insight into the heart and soul of the diehard F1 fan.

Martini

The quintessential Minardi driver, Pierluigi Martini, Detroit 1988

I have been thinking about Minardi-cool and its importance for the sport. There was a time when I was a Ferrari fan, way back in the sixties, but that was largely because John Surtees was driving for them at the time; when he left, I moved on too. Even then, however, I had a soft spot for the no-hopers, those small teams who stood no real chance of success but stayed in the game because they loved motor racing. Hence my support for ATS, both the Italian Automobili Turismo e Sport and the later German team with the same initials, Osella and anything remotely connected with Lola.

It’s the “support for the underdog” thing, I suppose, and certainly that has a lot to do with it. But that is not all or I would be mourning the disappearance of teams like Parnelli, Coloni and Pacific (which I’m not). No, there has to be more than the David/Goliath factor or I can remain merely an interested spectator.

And Minardi, especially in the early years, had it all. Not only did they compete on the smallest budget of all the teams but they enjoyed every moment. They could not afford the latest technology and anything other than a customer engine but, without fail, they designed the prettiest car in the field. And often they produced a chassis that could surprise much wealthier teams, making up for their lack of muscle with balance and handling.

I was a Minardi supporter from the first and imagined myself to be the only one. Much later I discovered that the team had worked its magic on many others and there was a large fanbase out there. There is hope for the human race yet.

You see, what motivated Minardi and kept them going all those years was pure love of F1 racing; they were delighted to be in the sport and never became jaded or disillusioned. That takes some doing when you’re a team running on a shoestring budget – F1 regulations are conspicuously mean to the poorly-funded. Minardi was a constant reminder of what the sport is really all about.

Now they have gone forever and Stuart Garlick is not the only one who searches for a replacement, finding some hope in Spyker, but it’s really not quite the same. He is right that the FIA should ease the passage of new entrants into F1 but at the moment that seems as likely as Max Mosley admitting that his tenure has been a disaster for the sport. We have little option but to hang on grimly and wait for a miracle.

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