“There were grown men crying”- In 2001, Minardi made an exception rebirth from a meltdown in just six weeks before the Australian GP.
In 2001, the legend of Fernando Alonso was introduced to Formula 1, but behind his introduction, an inspiring story of Minardi’s exceptional story of its participation often remains untold.
“Six weeks and three days,” says Paul Stoddart while talking to the Motorsport. “It was six weeks and three days from the moment I walked into that building in Faenza, finding just 40 staff and a little wooden mock-up of the car, to us getting the real thing on the grid in Melbourne.”
“When we did it, there were grown men crying – bawling their eyes out in the garage.” Twenty years ago, Stoddart revived Minardi from its ashes, bringing them back in F1, a miraculous feat by his team.
It was not for the faint-hearted.
For long, the airline entrepreneur was vying to get his own team into F1 but was being unsuccessful in his attempts until this opportunity knocked on his door.
“We were making it up as we were going along but working 24 hours a day. It was not for the faint-hearted. It started it off with Tyrrell in ‘97,” he says. “BAR got the entry, but I got all the equipment, right down to Ken’s desk.
“‘For ’99, I went to Jordan and tried to buy 10 per cent off Eddie [Jordan]. That didn’t work out, but we had a great time! That’s when I started an F3000 team – which was very successful with Mark Webber.
“Next, I tried to buy out [Arrows F1 boss] Tom Walkinshaw, but when we went in and did the due diligence, it was such a crock of shit that nobody would touch it with a barge pole!
“Then, just out of the blue, a phone call in December led me in the direction of Minardi, and the rest as they say…”