Dietrich Mateschitz has been forced to deny that one of his Formula One teams, Scuderia Toro Rosso is up for sale.
It had been reported online earlier this week that the team, based in Faenza, was up for sale at a paltry €30million. The team was formerly known as Minardi until the end of 2005 when Mateschitz took control of the outfit and rebranded it to fit in with his Red Bull portfolio. Designed as a feeder team to the main Red Bull squad, it had been using repaints of the senior teams cars until this year when the rules on customer cars was finally sorted.
The team are most famous for producing the 2010 title challenger Sebastian Vettel who joined at the end of 2007, winning their first and only Grand Prix at Monza in 2008. He was then promoted to the senior Red Bull Racing team.
“There are constant rumors about it, but now we have no plans to sell Toro Rosso,” Mateschitz’s PA told 422race.com.
Despite the denial of sale there are reported to already be a number of people interested in purchasing the team, should Mateschitz decide to sell. These include Carlos Slim, the Mexican entrepreneur who has always been interested in buying in to the F1 dream. Another interested party is Jacques Villeneuve along with the Duragno group who failed to succeed in becoming the 13th team for 2011. Stefan GP have also been linked with purchasing the team now they have severed all links with the former Toyota outfit.
Everyone likes to see the “under-dogs” do well at some point, and following on from Force India’s epic weekend in Spa, where they had the fastest car and scored a second place finish on the back of pole position we look back at some fine performances from the minnows from the late 1990’s through to 2008!
1996 Monaco Grand Prix – Olivier Panis
It was a wet morning before the Monaco Grand Prix and changeable weather conditions were a possibility. In the warm-up pre-race Andrea Montermini crashed his Forti and wouldn’t make the start of the Grand Prix. Jos Verstappen hit the wall within moments of the race start as he was on slicks. After just 5 laps there were only 13 cars remaining with Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Ukyo Katayama, Ricardo Rosset and Pedro Diniz all retiring through incident.
Gerhard Berger then retired, and Martin Brundle spun. Heinz Harald Frentzen lost his nosecone and ended up well down the field. At Lowes hairpin, Olivier Panis managed to muscle his way passed Eddie Irvine in the Ferrari. Irvine lost control and was getting out of the car when the Ferrari engine coughed back into life for him. Jean Alesi took an impromptu lead but lost it when his suspension failed. Jacques Villeneuve retired when he was in an incident with Luca Badoer in the Forti who was some 6 laps DOWN on the leaders.
Olivier Panis took his first and only Formula One victory after the two hour limit was passed, it was Ligier’s final victory also and their first for 15 years in the sport. True underdog stuff.
1997 Hungarian Grand Prix – Damon Hill & Shinya Nakano
Damon Hill, despite being world champion was driving for the very uncompetitive Arrows Yamaha team and had been experiencing a shocking season. However in Hungary, the Bridgestone tyres the team used were working well and after qualifying 3rd, Hill managed to lead the race after making a daring move down the inside of Michael Schumacher. He lead for the majority of the race but ended up finishing second after a throttle linkage failure. The failure was caused by a small washer, valued at only 50pence but it took away Arrows’ first ever win. It would be their last podium finish.
Also worth noting in Shinya Nakano’s performance here to 6th place, where he managed to score a single point!
1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Jordan’s 1-2
Eddie Jordan’s team had always been there or thereabouts at the top of the tables, but this race really put them on the map.
In the rain at Spa Francorchamps there was a huge incident between the La Source hairpin and Eau Rouge with almost every single car in the field involved. It was caused by David Coulthard losing control, and with terrible spray and mist other drivers piled in at full speed. Without enough spare cars, many did not restart the race and those that did ended up in accidents themselves with just 8 cars finishing the event, and last placed Shinya Nakano was 5 laps down…at Spa!
Still a brilliant performance from both Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher led to the team getting a 1-2 finish and sending Eddie Jordan into eclectic jubliation.
1999 European Grand Prix – Minardi Points; Stewart 1-3
After a fairly large incident on the first corner taking out two cars this was a pretty crazy Grand Prix all in. When the rain came it just added to everyone’s problems and cars were spinning off the track all ways. The standard amount of mechanical problems added into the mix too led to both Minardi’s being in the points. Disaster struck the story late on when Luca Badoer retired from 4th place with mechanical problems but his team mate Marc Gene managed 6th and a solitary point which was as ever incredibly vital for the team. However, in recent years it has been suggested that Gene changed the champion of that season, had he been passed by Irvine then Eddie could have won the World Championship by a single point. But he did not, and Mika Hakkinen took his second and final title.
Worth noting also that Jackie Stewart’s team got a 1-3 finish in the race. But Minardi were even more of an underdog than Stewart!!
2003 Brazilian Grand Prix – Fisichella Shines In The Rain
Rain hit the Brazilian GP, and the drains on track couldn’t cope with the monsoon conditions. With standing water all over the place, many crashed around turn 3 including some of the big names such as Michael Schumacher. Coy pitting allowed Giancarlo Fisichella up the front of the pack and he completed a beautiful pass over Kimi Raikkonen to take the lead moments before Mark Webber had a huge crash coming into the main straight. The safety car came out and Fisichella dived into the pits giving Raikkonen the lead again. When Fernando Alonso had a huge shunt in the same place just moments later the race was red flagged and Raikkonen handed the win.
However in the days following the race, it was discovered the leader from the last full lap won the race and that was Giancarlo Fisichella! He was belatedly handed the trophy at the San Marino Grand Prix a few weeks later.
2005 United States Grand Prix
When Ralf Schumacher had another crash at Indianapolis, Michelin realised their tyres were not up to the job of the circuit and moments before the race started they asked the Michelin running cars to pull into the garages post formation lap.
They did so, and we were left with just 6 Bridgestone tyre runners to complete the USGP. There were shocking scenes that day, but it allowed Jordan and Minardi to score many points and indeed Tiago Montiero to take his first and only podium finish.
2008 Italian Grand Prix – Vettel Wins For What Was Minardi!
Sebastian Vettel was drafted into Toro Rosso late in 2007 and showed great promise as a driver. When the Italian GP came, adverse weather allowed the young driver to put his car on pole, from there he strolled home in the terribly wet conditions while others lost their heads. Vettel delivered Toro Rosso a win, the team that used to be Minardi and indeed before the big brother Red Bull team even got one!
Jaime Alguersuari is on the verge of being confirmed as Sebastien Bourdais’s successor to the Toro Rosso race seat today, after straight line speed testing in Italy.
The 19 year old Spaniard will become the youngest F1 driver in history if he takes the wheel of the STR4 at the Hungaoring next weekend, trying to bring some good fortune and points to the Faenza based team.
He has hardly done any testing with the team, and close friend Ferrari tester and former Minardi driver Marc Gene says will mean he is going to have a hard debut.
“Jaime is ready, but there are lot of factors playing against him,” the 2009 Le Mans winner told Diario Sport.
“No testing, and Hungary is a tough track” he added
Alguersuari has another bonus for Toro Rosso, sponsorship. In a move which will remind older viewers of the Minardi days, he is backed by various Spanish companies including Repsol, who have sent around $2million to Italy trying t guarantee the seat for their man.
Fortunately for the 19 year old, he is a good driver too – unlike some of those who have in the past bought their seats…
Christian Klien, Paul Stoddart and former F1 driver Zsolt Baumgartner have done their bit to help lift the spirits of those affected by the major Australian bushfires ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season.
Many people died in the blazes, some natural and some started by heartless arsonists. Thousands have been left homeless.
Christian Klien demonstrated a BMW Sauber through the packed streets of Kinglake before Paul Stoddart allowed some of those affected the opportunity to have a passenger ride in his two seat Minardi F1 car, driven by Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner.
Speaking about his experience afterwards, Klien said: “We saw on the news back in Europe what happened with the fires, and I flew there this morning by helicopter and you could see what happened to the land there.
“It was nice to bring the people up there a bit of happiness and to run our Formula 1 car there. You really could see the smiles on the faces of the kids, and it was a really nice thing to do.”
Red Bull Racing today unveiled a new team sponsor in Trust, the Dutch electronic company.
Trust have previously sponsored in F1 with the Minardi team most prominently and Jordan Grand Prix, but also in GP2 more recently with heavy branding on the team Arden cars.
Trust’s logos will appear on both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s helmets underneath the visors.
“We are pleased to welcome Trust to Red Bull Racing and look forward to a mutually successful partnership.” Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said today.
“It is great for the team to enter the 2009 season with a vibrant new partner in Trust and with Formula One providing the perfect platform for Trust to showcase their cutting edge technology, we look forward to an exciting future together.”
Former F1 driver, and successful sportscar racer Jos Verstappen could be facing a jail sentence if he is found guilty of assault and harrassment when he appears in a Dutch court this week.
The 36 year old racer, who spent time in F1 with Benetton, Minardi and Arrows to name a few has recently bveen racing in Le Mans series.
He admitted to a court that he was having relationship problems with his wife, former karting racer Sophie Kumpen, but believed legal proceedings were one step too far.
Kumpen claims he harrassed her and their children, sent threatening text messages, assaulted her and slashed the tyres of her car.
Sebastian Vettel has taken his first ever win at Monza this afternoon. The 21 year old from Germany takes the record as the youngest ever grand prix winner (previously Alonso), and also makes Toro Rosso’s first ever win.
The race started under the safety car as conditions were very wet, and the FIA wanted the drivers to have a “taster” of the circuit before they went racing. Sebastien Bourdais luck was out before he started, the Toro Rosso wouldn’t go anywhere, and being under safety car there is no formation lap and he had to be wheeled to the pits to try and get him started.
In the beginning everyone was ambling around, but when the safety car came in it all kicked off. Vettel was tenths of a second faster on every lap than anyone else, he showed great courage and probably luck in the fact he had no spray to deal with!
Further back drivers were trading places, but everyone was paranoid about driving over chicanes after “Chicane gate”. Massa had to give a place back, as did many others.
Lewis Hamilton pushed his way through the field, passing Raikkonen like he was stood still despite having much more fuel than the Finn.
Both he and Raikkonen had previously dispatched Giancarlo Fisichella, but when the Italian tried to defend against David Coulthard he knocked his nosecone. coming down to the parabolica, Fisichella’s nose completely disintegrated and he went straight into the barriers.
Hamilton was going fast still while most of the other drivers were struggling to make overtakes stick. The track was growing drier and drier, and while most made a stop and put Extreme wets on, Hamilton continued and stopped on lap 27, a clear 1 stop strategy. Intellegence was coming frmo the radars that rain was coming so Hamilton put extreme wets on his car, it would prove to be a mistake.
No rain was coming, and the track was getting drier all the time. David Coulthard then Fernando Alonso came in and gambled on the wets. It worked for Alonso who was lapping well faster than everyone else. Felipe Massa changed too at his scheduled stop, as did most of the rest of the field. Robert Kubica’s stop was perfectly timed to take the intermediate tyres, and this paid dividends turning a quite race into a podium finish.
This meant that Hamilton was losing time on the wrong tyres, and his strategy of 1 stop was thrown out of the window as McLaren acknowledged his need to change to inermediates. He did so, but ruined his chances of winning. Webber was catching Hamilton very easily as the Brit wasn’t getting them up to temperature. Webber tried to outbrake Hamilton round the outside into the first chicane, but Hamilton bumped wheels with the Australian forcing him across the grass.
From there, Massa kept Hamilton behind easily, it never really looked like the McLaren would gain enough advantage to pass.
Towards the end there was more incident. Jenson Button crossed the chicane into turn 1 and clean scraped the side of Nelson Piquet, not really sure what was going on but there was carbon fibre all over the place. A lap later Piquet would powerslide his Renault across the grass, just a couple of incidents the driver had there.
Kimi Raikkonen came right through, passing laods of people and getting the fastest lap time, bringing it down 4 times in a row, this will anger many Ferrari fans who will be left feeling “why didn’t he do it sooner?” once again, 3 races in a row without points for the Finn.
Rubens Barrichello pitted late to put extreme wets on, but it was a stupid gamble as no rain ever came. Late stops for Intermediates from Toyota and Williams drivers left them nowhere near any points.
The Santander Italian Grand Prix;
Autodromo D’Monza, Italia;
Weather: Heavy Rain, turning light then damp track.
|1||S. Vettel||Toro Rosso||1.26.47.000|
|3||R. Kubica||BMW Sauber||+20.471|
|5||N. Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+27.748|
|8||M. Webber||Red Bull||+32.048|
|16||D. Coulthard||Red Bull||+1 lap|
|17||R. Barrichello||Honda||+1 lap|
|18||S. Bourdais||Toro Rosso||+1 lap|
|19||A. Sutil||Force India||+2 laps|
Fastest Lap: K. Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1.28.047
|G. Fisichella||Force India||12||Crash|
Interview with the race winner:
“It’s Unbelievable,” said Vettel.
“The whole race we had no problems, the car was working really fine. I had a fantastic race, a really good strategy but all that was gone when I crossed the chequered flag, and the lap back to the pits all the podium ceremony was unbelievable.
“For sure this is the best day of my life, these emotions I will never forget, it is so much better than you might think it is.
“I can just say a big big thank you to the guys in the team, they did a fantastic job, who would have thought it at the start of the season, in these conditions we can do a bit more. It is fantastic, I am speechless.”
“Looking back, being first and having no visibility problems was the key,” he added. “I could make a good, solid gap to Heikki straight away and then I was pushing very hard, sometimes I went over the limit and it got hard.
“I think it got more tricky in the middle of the race as there was no standing water any more. People were going left and right to cool down the tyres, it was very, very slippery, in the last stint.
“A perfect weekend, pole position, race win. I don’t know what to say.”
“All the people might be used to hearing the Italian national anthem but for Scuderia Ferrari. It is a special day and for all the team they won’t forget this day as long as I won’t.”
“I have seen every angle of the grid now. It is difficult when you start from the back. Now we can be proud of ourselves. Celebrating our victory is great, putting these words together sounds unbelievable.
“The mentality has changed, the atmosphere is fantastic. When I jumped into the car before the race they said: ‘Now destroy them’.
“I was pushing like hell, they were looking forward, in that sense you could say we had the balls to do it today.
“Compared to BMW or McLaren or Ferrari, we have not that amount of manpower at the factory, we have about 160 people working at Faenza and they can feel very special. I am one of them we are one team and I feel extremely happy.”
Former Formula One test driver Sergei Zlobin has been hurt in a car bomb attack in Russia. It was an attempted murder attack against him.
The Russian driver was nearly killed when a device detonated under his Mercedes Benz SUV.
The police of Russia have announced they will begin immediate inquiries into this attack, which left Zlobin shaken, and his Mercedes vehicle a clear right-off.
Zlobin told Russia Today “I started the car then reversed about a metre and heard the explosion under my feet. The floor blasted open. I got out of the car and saw that it wasn’t on fire then called the police. Nothing extraordinary there, I just feel sorry about the car. I am very lucky that my legs are fine because the floor was badly damaged.”
He tested for the failing Minardi team in 2002 as part of a contract deal with Russian gas/oil giant Gazprom.