Gian Carlo Minardi: Interview with the Formula 1 legend…

Gian Carlo Minardi is a person who had a great impact on Formula 1. He was and still is respected by many. The legendary owner and chief of the Minardi Team shares his memories of Ayrton Senna and talks about today’s Formula 1 in the exclusive interview for Racing-Elite.com.

May 1 marks the 25th anniversary of Senna’s death. Mr Minardi, what are your memories of Ayrton Senna? Can you share with us what was he like as a person?

My relationship with Ayrton Senna began in 1982 when I offered him to join my team and compete in Formula 2. Ayrton approached me and explained his plans. But first, he thanked me for offering him a steering wheel without asking for money in exchange. He already had a plan that would lead him to the title of the World Champion in the 1988 season, which was also realized. Since that day a strong bond was formed between us, a bond beyond the relationship between the owner of the team and the driver. It was a relationship between two friends, both enthusiastic about this sport, who exchanged many opinions, I gave him many tips, until that cursed day of May 1, 1994. We had a wonderful relationship.

Ayrton Senna: Conspiracy theories

A well-known anecdote says that Ayrton wanted to end his career in your team. Have you ever wondered what kind of a season this would be?

First of all, I was very honored when Ayrton told his father and some of his friends that his intentions are to win five World Championships, which was back then considered the greatest achievement, to reach for Fangio’s record. Then, when he would be noted as one of the greatest in history, he would come to help raise the importance of my team. But unfortunately “if” and “but” do not help us much. Anyway, this was his expression of respect and trust, which was interrupted by that May 1. It would be a great honor for me. I believe Ayrton would keep his promise but I repeat, “if” and “but” do not write history.

Let’s go to the present. What is your opinion on satellite teams and how do you see in the long run their ability to be constructors?

In the 2019 season, we saw a lot of teams in the second league, which are almost cloned from the first league cars. It is clear that as a former constructor I do not see this in a positive light, for several reasons. First, the meaning of the word constructor and, consequently, its intellectual property is reduced. Then, new staff, new engineers and new mechanics will probably no longer be trained, because all attention would be focused only on the main team. Consequently, this is so great degradation that the competitions could no longer be called the World Championship among the constructors. As far as I know, the Concorde Agreement is still very far from being accepted.

How do you see the new generation of drivers? Do they have the chance and time to grow, like it used to be, or come into Formula 1 prematurely and have an overwhelming desire to prove themselves?

I think the world has changed. When I started my story in Formula 2 and later Formula 1, we always worked with young people, but young people then were 19 and 20 respectively. Today they start when they are 15 years old and one day, at 17 they are already formed and have certain experiences, they have already achieved a lot, so they can be offered to teams and at 20 are extremely mature as we see in some, most of which Leclerc stands out. I see this youth extremely positively because all sport has adjusted the standards down to age, and many things have changed, and consequently, automotive has also adopted, although in automotive it also depends heavily on other factors that do not have a relationship with the specific abilities of an individual driver.

How do you see the arrival of many drivers with famous names in Formula 1?

Positively, but by the time they themselves can handle this pressure, which the surname carries with itself. Unfortunately, we are working in a profession where only a stopwatch is the one who decides who can come, who can stay and who can become a champion. A good example is Mick Schumacher, in which I admire that he can control the pressure that his surname brings. He is a driver, as well as others with important surnames, for which he now shows that he is doing well, but only the future will tell if he can reach the level of his father. Schumacher is also such an example where I am not convinced that his comparison with his father is beneficial.

Thank you very much, Mr. Gian Carlo Minardi, for your time that we have been able to realize this interview for Racing Elite/ Portal F1.si.

Simon Jazbec

“Next weekend at Imola’s Enzo and Dino Ferrari Circuit we will tell a good part of the history of Formula 1 that at Shanghai crossed the line of its 1,000th grand prix, thanks to a starting grid of more than 30 F2 racing cars, together with many friends, drivers and engineers,” commented Gian Carlo Minardi, “I took part in more than 340 rounds with the Minardi Team and I am proud to share the results of this wonderful period with all the fans”.

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th Imola’s International Circuit will host the fourth edition of the motoring event created by the manager from Faenza and brought onto the track with Formula Imola.

The single ticket that can be bought on TicketOne or directly at the Santerno circuit will give access to the pits, paddock and the terrace for a dip into the history of Motorsport with more than 30 F1 racing cars (starting with the Cooper Maserati T51 up to the Scuderia Toro Rosso passing through Minardi, Ferrari, Williams, Ayrton Senna’s McLaren, Tecno, Wolf, Tyrrell, Fittipaldi, Theodore, Arrows, Osella, Dallara, March), F2, F3, Gran Turismo, Prototypes such as the Alfa Romeo 33 TT 3 and the Lucchini Motorsport, Lancia Martini, Lotus Elise, as well as Supercar with the badges of Pagani, Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Dallara Stradale and Alpine which will take to the track on both days

For the occasion Riccardo Patrese will return to the wheel of the Renault powered Williams FW14, the car with which he won the Mexico and Portugal GPs, while Pierluigi Martini will take to the track with the six-wheeled Tyrrell P36 and the Minardi M189.

Over the two days the pits and the paddock will be “invaded” by champions of Motorsport , with the great participation of the F1 Grand Prix Club: Riccardo Patrese  together with his son Lorenzo who is already a protagonist in karting, Emanuele Pirro, Alessandro Nannini, Pierluigi Martini,  Luca Badoer Fabrizio Barbazza,  Moreno Roberto, Andrea Montermini, Luis Perez Sala, Paolo Barilla, Gabriele Tredozi and Aldo Costa former Technical Directors of Team Minardi, Mauro Forghieri, Alex Caffi, Giovanni Lavaggi, Carlo Facetti, Gabriele Lancieri, Claudio and Gianni Giudice Angelo Ancherani, karting driver Andrea Kimi Antonelli, Francesco Bergomi, Sergio Camapana, Enzo Coloni, Roberto Del Castello, Farneti Roberto, Giorgio Francia, Bruno Giacomelli, Roberto Marazzi, Mauro Martini,  Nicolò Piancastelli, Andrea Rosso, Enrico Toccacelo, Howden Ganley, Mario Theissen, Richard Attwood, Daniele Audetto, Derek Daly, Gery Brandstetter, Graham Gauld, Hans Herrmann, Teddy Pilette, David Piper, Jo Ramirez, Axel Schmidt, Marc Surer, Patrick Tambay, Jo Vonlanthen and Mike Wilds  will be available to sign autographs.

Once more there will be the appointments in the Ayrton Senna Conference Room with the  Libreria dell’Automobile  (Automobile Bookshop) which will present extraordinary books signed by Pino Allievi, Mario Donnini, Paola Rovolta and Umberto Zapelloni (Giorgio Nada Editore). The Scuderia Tazio Nuvolari will present the historic Lucchini sport Register and the Lotus Elisa S1 and the debate with engineer Nicola Materazzi.

The Champions of Motorsport of the F1 GRAND PRIX CLUB will be waiting for you on Sunday 28th at 11.00am.

There will be innovation and road safety with Easyrain, the innovative SME that develops safety systems that is committed to creating the first anti-aquaplaning gadget for cars and autonomous vehicles will be at Imola to put its research on display for drivers, teams and all the fans.

Furthermore at the Historic Minardi Day you will be able to admire cars constructed from LEGO blocks. The Gruppo Appassionati LEGO Brianza LUG (Recognized LEGO Users Group) and their friends from Æmilia Bricks and  Piemonte Bricks will organize an exhibition with 12 “theme islands”. One of the cars on display will the Lancia Delta HF Integrale made with LECO Technic.

There will be plenty of space for entertainment in the Simulators and E-sport area where you will be able to put yourself to the test on the Imola track by becoming a driver for a day, and theDriver Experience. You can also take to the track in your own supercar during free practice which will give you the chance to put on the helmet and experience the thrill of a lap of the Santerno track (subject to booking directly at the circuit) aboard a fantastic Supercar of the calibre of Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglio of more than 500CV and the Dallara Stradale with Andrea Levy. In Paddock 2 you will be able to witness the incredible radio controlled F1 car challenges organized by the Faenza RC Team.