Let’s examine the numbers for a moment, shall we? Minardi F1 Team participated in the highest echelon of motorsport for an amazing 21 seasons between 1985 and 2005. The team entered 345 Grands Prix, attempting to qualify 674 times (one driver in their premier season, two drivers from then onward). 32 separate instances, the team failed to qualify, leaving 642 attempts on grid. The team suffered six individual instances of making it through qualifying, only to have a failure before the start of the race proper (down to 636 race starts).
For various reasons, the team suffered a whopping 328 retirements, now lowering the total to 308 finishes. A single disqualification, a lone exclusion from the results, and one unclassified finish give the team only three-hundred-five classifications. That number equates to a 45.2% rate of classification, well less than half.
From those tumultuous results, Minardi drivers scored a grand total of 38 World Championship points, averaging 0.05 points per Grand Prix attempt. To say that Minardi were less than successful is an understatement. Minardi were perennial back-markers in F1, but somehow found a way to keep chugging along. Hiring primarily young or less-than-perfect drivers, Minardi was a development team for a lot of the talent that has moved through F1 over the years.
As just a sampling of their past drivers, try this list on for size: Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Robert Doornbos, Justin Wilson, Anthony Davidson, Marc Gene, Stephane Sarrazin, Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella, Pedro Lamy, Christian Fittipaldi, Alex Zanardi, and Alessandro Nannini. After the team was purchased by Red Bull and turned into the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, they even groomed 3-time-champ Seb Vettel.
If you have ever desired to be like any of these men, and experience the sensations of a Formula 1 racing car, you are in luck. There is currently a single complete 1998 Minardi M198 chassis for sale in the UK via MotorsportAds.com, as sponsored by Fondmetal, and as driven by Shinji Nakano during the 1998 F1 season. The car was slow and unreliable for the day, but could prove to be an excellent car for vintage racing nearly anywhere in the world. Any Formula 1 car, even a back-marking one, would be a welcome sight for most vintage racing fanatics. The sound of the Ford Cosworth V10 engine, combined with the outright speed capable in a late 1990s Formula 1 machine, the new owner would be the talk of the party, for certain.
There are very few F1 cars available for sale that are still capable of running. For the most part, once the season is completed, the cars are relegated to museum status, or the engines and transmissions removed and sold off to collectors. Usually, when you buy an F1 car, you can’t get the guts anymore, and what’s the fun in that? This particular car, though, comes with a fully functioning X-trac gearbox and Cosworth engine, as well as several spare X-trac components, and a second spare engine.
The price, at the moment, is “COA”, and as we all know, if you have to ask… That said, it might be lower than you think. Vintage racecars without significant provenance, especially ones with history of failure, tend to not bring a lot of scratch. I’d be willing to bet that there are some people reading these words that have the quantity required. If I had the spare change lying around, this wouldn’t be a terrible way to spend it. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next young driver to be noticed at the wheel of a Minardi.
[Photos courtesy: the current owner]