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.
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.