The surroundings of the Hungaroring pit lane, in late August
2003, may have been a little unusual, but the method of
celebration was traditional, involving the pouring of champagne,
the cutting of an artistically decorated cake and the organising
of a team photograph. That was how Minardi marked its 300th Grand
Prix - another milestone in the history of the Faenza-based team,
whose name has become synonymous during its years in Formula One
with tenacity and opportunity.
Founded by Gian Carlo Minardi in 1979, with the aim of competing in the European Formula Two Championship, the Minardi Team made its Formula One debut in 1985. After spending its first few seasons in motorsports top category acclimatising to the demands of Grand Prix racing, the team took its first World Championship point in 1988, with the 6th place of Pierluigi Martini in Detroit (USA), then in 1989, scoring in Great Britain (fifth and sixth places), Portugal (fifth) and Australia (sixth).
Minardi's best season to date was 1991, when its effective, Ferrari-powered chassis helped the team to claim seventh place in the final standings of the World Constructors' Championship. In 1992, Minardi switched from Ferrari power to the Lamborghini V12. A sixth-place finish at the Japanese Grand Prix provided the team with a point for its efforts during the season.
The 1993 car was designed under the supervision of experienced Austrian, Gustav Brunner, and the chassis proved to be highly effective, fourth place in South Africa, fifth in Monaco, and sixth at Donington and Imola propelling Minardi to eighth place in the Constructors' Championship.
During 1994 and 1995, Minardi entered into a joint-venture with Scuderia Italia. Unfortunately, a series of commercial difficulties jeopardised the team's future and, by the end of 1996, an alliance formed by Gabriele Rumi and Flavio Briatore acquired a majority stake in the company.
The 1998 season marked a turning point for Minardi. Briatore severing his ties with the company and his shareholding being acquired by Gabriele Rumi. The successful Italian businessman, who headed up the Fondmetal group of companies, thus became the majority shareholder in the team and embarked on an extensive restructuring and upgrading programme. As a result, Minardi was joined by new, highly skilled personnel on the technical side, with Gustav Brunner making a return to Faenza.
In 1999, the Minardi personnel line-up was further strengthened by the arrival of Cesare Fiorio as Team Manager and Sporting Director. As in 1998, the Faenza-based team was ranked 10th in the final World Championship standings, in this case, courtesy of a very valuable point scored at the European Grand Prix by F1 "rookie", Marc Gené. One of the most satisfying aspects of the 1999 season was the excellent reliability of the M01, which helped its drivers to 10 top-10 finishes.
The 2000 campaign marked Minardi's 16th year in Formula One, and although the team did not succeed in scoring any points during the course of the season, it retained its tenth-place ranking in the World Championship, finishing ahead of the notably better-funded Prost squad.
In 2005 the Minardi F1 Team was acquired by Red Bull and now, in 2006, the new Minardi Team by GP Racing is going to start a new adventure in Euroseris 3000.