Minardi Madness, I Must Have It


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]

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24 responses to “Minardi Madness, I Must Have It”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    Probably faster than the new LaFerrari and half the price. Probably cheaper than a Ferrari FXX too.

    1. Maxichamp Avatar

      Maybe even faster than a 2012 HRT!

  2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I remember when the Simtek F1 team were liquidated (despite MTV sponsorship). An engineless, gearbox-free chassis but with all other rolling gear and bodywork sold for something silly cheap. Whang an Alfa V6 out back and you've got a hell of a track-day machine.
    In fact it's obvious that an F1 car with an everyday engine is an infinitely more useful thing to own than something original and valuable.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      There was an attempt at vintage race series here in the US that used "modern" open wheel Indy car chassis (late 1990s to early 2000s vintage) equipped with a Chevy small block V-8. Google is failing me at finding any information
      I remember back when IMSA shut down in the late 1990s. Competitive GTP cars were seen in the back of Autoweek for $100k, complete.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Indy cars making proper noises! Sounds good to me!

    2. Maxichamp Avatar

      I remember when USF1 liquidated everything. I was trying to bid on some random parts. Instead of eBay, USF1 used some arcane web interface to conduct a one-day "live" auction. It was impossible to use/navigate. No wonder these guys couldn't get their act together.

  3. engineerd Avatar

    After carefully studying all facets of this car — powerplant, aerodynamics, driver talent, etc. — I have determined the root of Minardi's troubles:
    NO "N" BUTTON!

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      <img src="http://tanshanomi.com/temp/n-bike.jpg&quot; width="600">

    2. Vairship Avatar

      And no way to "put it in H"

  4. PFG Avatar

    I passed on an opportunity to purchase an original Minardi team-issued down parka at the '01 Canadian GP for $50. I regret it to this day.

  5. MVEilenstein Avatar

    "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."
    This is why F1 needs more teams on the grid, not fewer. Ecclestone is crazy to suggest otherwise.
    On-topic: the slowest F1 car on the grid from 15 years ago is still probably faster than the fastest car on the road, so yes, I would love to drive this.

    1. BradleyBrownell Avatar

      I think it would behoove Formula 1 to bring back the ability for a single car team to enter a grand prix weekend, one-off efforts, and "customer cars". If a team thinks they can qualify for a 24 car grid (within the 107% rule) with a bargain basement year old McLaren without KERS, more power to them.
      F1 used to be something a relatively rich man could aspire toward. Now, it's the sole place of corporations and the uber wealthy.

      1. MVEilenstein Avatar

        You're preaching to the choir, brother.

      2. engineerd Avatar


      3. apfeifer3 Avatar

        That would certainly be nice, but with the costs now I think it would need major support from someone like McLaren or be too expensive to run. The costs and technology is too far above what it used to be for this to work now in my opinion.
        It would be awesome if it did happen though.

    2. Maxichamp Avatar

      Bring back Footwork F1!

  6. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    If I was looking for an ignominious F1 bolide, I be looking more for Hesketh, March, Tyrell, Williams, Honda, BRM, and a few other places before Minardi would be an option.

    1. BradleyBrownell Avatar

      I would guess that each of those teams efforts would pull more of a premium, as they have genuine fanboys. I have been following motorsports for many years, and I've never met a Minardi fan…

      1. Van_Sarockin Avatar

        I'd say those premiums are probably better spent. In the next recession, or shift in fashion, mediocre exotic race cars will probably suffer large declines in value- especially in contrast to higher profile and attainment teams.
        It makes me wonder about the prices claimed by artifacts of other teams without noticeable results, or populated by members the public disliked.
        Regardless, having the complete car is but one step in being able to drive it with any regularity. Besides needing rebuilds with great frequency, and spares may be nearly unobtainable. And you need a team, operating in sequence just to get the car started and able to move. These aren't vehicles for the casual, or impecunious, enthusiast!

        1. Vairship Avatar

          It would make a WONDERFUL base for a glass-topped dinner table…

  7. Philipp Avatar

    Great design! i love the <a rel="nofollow" href="http://foglampdepot.com/">car accessories.

  8. Matt - Tour-De-Force Avatar
    Matt – Tour-De-Force

    With the right guys it is entirely possible to run this era of F1 on a sensible and realistic budget. With a reasonable reduction in revs and minor revisions to the gearbox and clutch strategies they'll go 1000KMs between major services. You need to budget for fuel tank replacement every 5 years and crack testing of wheels, uprights, wishbones etc. once a year/1000KM. Realistically 1000KM is 2 – 3 years use. If you are in the market for a new "supercar" then you can own a fully working F1 car for the same money and it'll cost less to look after each year than the depreciation on said supercar.
    The M198 in this article is currently with us having a new tank etc. and some upgrades ready to go make some noise later this year. I'm lucky enough to work with these cars every day and more and more V10 era F1s are being relifed and returned to working condition. If fast cars are your thing and a road legal Supercar is just a little bit passé then you want an F1 🙂

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