Minardi is probably one of the most favourite teams that was on the grid in the Formula One. They were for many drivers the first step for Formula One. Think about Giancarlo Fisichella, Mark Webber and let’s not forget about Fernando Alonso. However, Minardi was also one of the teams that let a lot of drivers race for them if they had the money for it. Even if it was for just two or three races. Then there is also the amount of drivers that tested for the team. One of the well known drivers is Israelian driver Chanoch Nissany who had too much grip with the Minardi he tested. So here is the ultimate Minardi drivers list!
The list on alphabetic order of name, I was thinking to do it by year but it meant that several drivers would return on the list. Like Pierluigi Martini, Alessandro Nannini and so on. A little legenda;
(D) = Driver
(T) = Test driver
(X2) = Minardi 2 seater
Gabriele Lancieri(I) – (X2)
Active year: 2005
Gabriele Lancieri is one of the unknown drivers that eventually appeared in a Minardi F1 car. Lancieri debuted in 1998 in the Italian Formula 3 championship to move to the Italian Formula 3000 series the years to come. With a break in 2001 racing for Durango in the International Formula 3000 series.
2002 was the last season he would race in Formula series as he moved in 2003 to the Porsche Supercup and the FIA GT. He is still active in GT racing. However, Lancieri drove in 2004 at Kyalami with the Minardi 2-seater during for a charity event. This happened the 7th of August 2004.
Gastón Mazzacane(AR) – (T)(D)
Active years: 1999 – 2000
Mazzacane is the last Argentinian driver that appeared on the grid, the last time was already in 2000 for Minardi! Before he arrived in 1999 in the Formula One he made his debut in 1993 in the SudAmericana Formula 3 championship, in 1994 he moved to Europe where he would race in the Italian Formula 3 championship as well in 1995. From 1996 on until 1999 Gaston raced for several teams in the International Formula 3000 championship with no luck, he scored only points when he drove for Team Astromega in 1998.
More luck he had in 1999 in the Sports Racing World Cup Overall where he managed to score a win and another podium finish within six races. However, he was in 1999 Minardi’s test driver and tested a couple of times with the Minardi M01 at Vairano. In 2000 he would become Marc Gene’s teammate for Minardi. His best result was an 8th place during the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Doing a couple of races in 2001 for Prost Grand Prix and test with the Arrows Mazzacane returned to sportscar racing.
Giancarlo Fisichella(I) – (T)(D)
Active years: 1994 – 1996
Fisico is one of the drivers in the Formula One that entered the Formula One via the Minardi team. Eventually to race with that other former Minardi driver Fernando Alonso. Like almost all the Italians that appeared in the Formula One during the 1990s Fisico went from Karting to the Italian Formula 3 Championship. Eventually he won the series in 1994 after he finished 3rd a year previous. Interesting is that Fisico kept on racing in the karts as well during that period.
The first time Fisico appeared in a Formula One car was already in 1994 for Minardi. It seems that everyone seems to have forgotten or simply just know about this test for Minardi. The 8th of August 1994 he tested with the Minardi M194 at Mugello. In 1995 Fisico made the move to touringcars, he started racing in the ITCC and the DTM showing some decent results on the track. In between the races Fisico started testing for the Minardi team. His first test in 1995 was with the Minardi M195 in early may at Imola.
In December his biggest chance came to become a fulltime Formula One driver as Minardi held it’s youngsters test at Fiorano. Minardi let several drivers test for the team besides Fisico it were Thomas Biagi and Danilo Rossi. Fisico was much faster then the other drivers. Though, it took a while before he received the call from Minardi that he could race for them. Ten days before the start of the 1996 season he was told to book a flight to Australia as he would drive for the Minardi team! In total he drove eight races with the M195B for the team with a 8th place during the Canadian Grand Prix. After the British Grand Prix he was replaced by Giovanni Lavaggi. As the team needed the extra funding.
Eventually Fisico would race for several teams in the Formula One. In 1997 for Jordan Grand Prix. From 1998 until 2001 for the Benetton team, with two years again for Jordan and a year for Sauber in 2003 he “returned” to Renault in 2004. He would stay there until 2007. The last two seasons he drove for Force India, thanks to his second place during he Belgium Grand Prix in 2009 he drove the last few races for the Ferrari team. After his F1 career he went back to the touringcars, GT en endurance racing.
Gianfranco Brancatelli(I) – (T)
Active year: 1985
Gianfranco was not an unknown driver for the Minardi Team. In 1976, 1977 and 1978 he did a couple of races in the Formula 2 for Scuderia Everest / Everest Racing Team. Scuderia Everest was Giancarlo Minardi’s first team in the Autosport. He started his career in the Italian Formula 3 in the mid-1970s. His best season was in 1976 when he finished 3rd in the Championship standing. In 1979 his career got an interesting twist. He appeared in the British Formula One Championship for Willi Kauhsen Racing Team. He raced at Zolder though had to retire. That same year he also appeared in Spain and Belgium trying to qualify with the Kauhsen, which he failed to qualify for.
In Monaco Brancatelli, after Khausen disappeared from the grid, tried to pre-qualify the Merzario A2 which he sadly failed to. A year later he would make another appearance in the British Formula One Championship. He drove for Colin Bennett Racing in a Lotus78. He retired during the race. From 1980 on he would race in the ETCC where he won the championship in 1985. That was also the year that Brancatelli would appear in the Minardi M185. The 12th of November he took place behind the wheel of the M185 at Misano, where he completed 7 laps.
Gianmaria Bruni(I) – (T)(D)(X2)
Years active: 2003 – 2004
Gianmaria Bruni is the last Italian driver that appeared on the grid for Minardi. Bruni won in 1998 the Formula Renault Campus in Italy. In 1999 Bruni won the Formula Renault 2.0 Euro cup. In 2000 an 2001 he appeared in the British Formula 3 for Fortec with good results. From there on Bruni went racing in the Euro 3000 championship and started also racing in sportcars debuting in the FIA Sportscar championship. While racing in the Euro 3000 in 2003, he became Minardi’s official test and reserve driver from the German Grand Prix on. He took place behind the wheel of the Minardi PS03 the 4th of July 2003 at Monza.
In December later that year Bruni tested again for Minardi at Monza. This was moreover a shootout for a seat in 2004. Eventually Gianmaria Bruni earned the seat for 2004. His season with Minardi was not what he would have expected. A couple of times he had to retire while he did a decent job on the track. The best result was a 14th place during the Malaysian, European and Hungarian Grand Prix. While his teammate Zsolt Baumgartner managed to score a point during the Hungarian Grand Prix and scored twice more a Top 10 result. He also drove with the Minardi 2-seater in 2003 and 2004 during the Minardi charity.
After his Minardi adventure Bruni drove two seasons in GP2 winning several races but made the move in 2007 to GT racing. He made his debut in the FIA GT2 cup as well in the American Le Mans series. In 2023 Bruni is still active with lots of success in the GT and endurance racing. Last year he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Porsche.
Gianni Morbidelli(I) – (T)(D)
Active years: 1989 – 1992 / 2005
Gianni Morbidelli is one of the drivers in the early 1990s that drove a couple of years for the team. In 1987 Morbidelli made its debut in 1987 in the Italian Formula 3 championship. He won the championship in 1989. However, his first taste with a Minardi was the same year when he was asked to test with the Minardi M188 fitted with the ill-fated Subaru engine which Minardi eventually didn’t use. He tested with the Minardi M188 Subaru in May 1989 at Misano. In 1990 Morbidelli made his debut in the Formula One with Scuderia Italia, he drove the first two races for the team interesting is that that year he was also Ferrari’s test driver.
Morbidelli would return on the grid the last two races of the season for Minardi. He retired both races. Though, for 1991 Gianni signed the contract for Minardi, the season was pretty good and came close to scoring points. His best result was the 7th place during the Mexican Grand Prix. He would race the last race for Ferrari again and finish 6th! It meant his first point, however due to the circumstances only half points were given. In 1992 Morbidelli would drive for Minardi again, and again showing some good results. The M191 and later the M192 was fitted with the Lamborghini engine this was not the best engine. It costed him and the team points. His best result was the 7th place during the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Due to a lack of sponsors Morbidelli was forced to leave the Minardi team and moved in 1993 to the Italian Superturismo Championship. In 1994 and 1995 he returned to the grid with Footwork scoring occasionally points and even an amazing podium finish during the 1995 Australian Grand Prix he was almost done with the Formula One. In 1996 Morbidelli did some testing in the F1 while he was racing again in the Italian Superturismo Championship. Only to return briefly in 1997 with Sauber. After 1997 Morbidelli started making a name in the touringcars.
Giorgio Pantano(I) – (T)
Active year: 2002
In his karting days Giorgio was one of the best on the track, winning many championships it seems he had a bright future. 1999 was the first year Pantano appeared in the single-seaters. Driving in the British Formula 3 and the Euro Open by Nissan and completing the year in the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series. In the Palmer series he finished 3rd. In 2000 Pantano won the German Formula 3 Championship and tested a couple of times for the Benetton team.
From 2001 until 2003 he drove in the International F3000 Championship. In between he tested for McLaren and Williams. As well did he appear in 2002 in a Minardi PS01B. This happened during the 9th of August during Thunder at the Park 2 at Doningtonpark. Two days later he would drive the Minardi 2-seater his guest was Chris Eubank. Eventually Pantano would race for the Jordan team in 2004, there were rumours he would stay. However, he went a step back to the GP2. He won the championship in 2008 for Racing Engineering.
Giorgio Vinella(I) – (T)
Active years: 1999 – 2000
After several years of karting Vinella made his debut in the single-seaters with the Formula Ford in 1994, at that time the Formula Ford was a big thing. He drove three seasons in in a variation of Formula Ford series. In 1999 he made his debut in the Italian F3000 championship which he managed to win. Giving a good impression he was asked by Minardi to test for the team during a youngsters test at Jerez. This was from the 13th of December until the 15th. He tested the same day as Fernando Alonso the 13th. He impressed the team enough have offered a test contract in April 2000. The first time he would appear with the Minardi M02 was at Vairano the 5th of July 2000. At the end of July he would test the Minardi again at Mugello. After the tests he more or less disappeared from the Autosport. Time by Time, sometimes covering years, he appears at the start of GT races.
Giovanni Lavaggi(I) – (D)
Active year: 1996
Giovanni Lavaggi is one of the most interesting driver that drove for Minardi. While some will disagree in my opinion he is one of the last gentleman drivers that appeared in the Formula One. His very first experience was with some rally racing in 1979 and 1980. After having his engineering degree from the Milan Polytechnic Lavaggi debuted in the Formula Junior Monza, seems also to be known as the Italian Formula Panda championship, in 1983. At that time he was already 26 years old. He finished 2nd in the series winning several races though lacked the financial backing to debut in the Formula 3 championship in 1984. Therefore, he debuted in the Italian Formula 3 championship with a Dallara 384 entered with his own team completing only two races. In 1985 he would return to the series completing 6 races with an Arno 03 and later with a Ralt RT3.
Going for another year in the Italian Formula 3 championship without a decent result he made his debut in the touringcars. In 1989 he made his debut in the Group C series which showed his talent, scoring several good results including a podium, the same year the debut was made for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche Kremer Racing. With the team he would finish 2nd during he 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1992. His best results were with prototype cars and in the endurance racing. Winning several races. In 1993 he was 1st overall in the Interseries.
In 1992 he had his first taste with the Formula One, when he was announced as the teams test-driver. He tested with the March CG911B at least twice. At the age of 35, probably one of the oldest rookies, he made his debut with the Pacific Grand Prix team. During all the races he retired. For 1995 he would race a couple of races for the Minardi team. He made his debut during the German Grand Prix though failed to qualify. The race after at the Hungaroring went better finishing 10th. After his Formula One career he started working on his own team Scuderia Lavaggi. He was the last privateer in the Le Mans Series in the LMP1 series.
Gregor Foitek (CH) – (T)
Active year: 1987
The Swiss driver might held the record of most teams in two years in the Formula One! Though before Foitek made his debut in 1988 with EuroBrun in the Formula One Foitek appeared for the first time at the start of from a championship in 1986. He made his debut in the Swiss Formula 3 Championship which he manage to win; The Swiss F3 was a level 2 European Formula 3 series besides races on circuits it was also part of hill climbs. In 1987 and 1988 he drove with some success in the International F3000 Championship before he made his debut EuroBrun Racing for 1989, the team suffered from the ban of turbo engines which meant that 39 cars tried to qualify. However, before he made his debut for EuroBrun Gregor tested the 14th of December 1987 for Minardi with the M187 at Estoril. There were never talks of Foitek joining the Italian team.
RIAL asked Foitek to race for the team during the Spanish Grand Prix in 1989, he failed to qualify the ARC2. For 1990 Foitek would race, it seemed, for Brabham. However, after the Brazilian Grand Prix Foitek was signed with Moneytron his best result was the 7th place during the Monaco Grand Prix. Later as the team was purchased by Monteverdi the team changed it name but the results on the grid were poorly. He only managed to qualify for the German Grand Prix. Then he left after the Hungarian Grand Prix. He tried his luck in CART in 1992 for a shot period he only appeared at three races before he disappeared from the race scene.
Heikki Kovalainen(FI) – (T)
Year active: 2003
Where fellow Finnish driver Kimi had a rocket start when he entered the Formula One, Heikki’s took a bit longer. After several years of karting he entered the British Formula Renault 2.0 in 2001 with several wins he joined the British Formula in 2002 to win several races and finish 3rd in the championship. In 2003 Heikki moved to the Worldseries by Nissan finishing 2nd only to win the series a year later in 2004. Though what many not known is that Heikki tested for Minardi in late December 2003. The 11th of December Heikki tested with the Minardi PS03 at Vallelunga together with Lopez and del Monte. Heikki was the fastest of the three. Eventually Heikki appeared in the Formula One but somehow he was all the time at the wrong team eventually ending his F1 career at Lotus in 2013.
Jarno Trulli(I) – (D)
Years active: 1997
We all remember the Trulli train, don’t we? Probably Trulli could have accomplished more than his only victory the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. Trulli debuted in 1993 in the Italian Formula 3 for MC Motorsport with the same team he would appear in some races in the British Formula 3 championship. A year later he would made his debut in the German Formula 3 championship. In 1996 he became Benetton’s test driver. He would race that year for the Benetton Junior team in the German Formula 3 and would win the championship.
In the 1997 Trulli signed a contract with Minardi to race for the team. As Flavio Briatore was involved with Minardi that year it was an easy move from Benetton to Minardi for Trulli. He drove the first seven races for the team before he replaced Olivier Panis at Prost Grand Prix. His best results were twice a 9th place during the Australian and Argentinian Grand Prix. Eventually Trulli would stay 15 seasons in the Formula One for Minardi, Prost, Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Lotus.
Jean-Marc Gounon(FR) – (D)
Active year : 1993
Gounon is one of the many drivers that at somepoint in their career drove for the Minardi team in the Formula One. In his first few years in the Autosport he raced successfully in the France Formula Renault Turbo before he made his debut in the French Formula 3 in 1988 for Promatecme finishing 4th. He races in 1989 also in the French Formula 3 Oreca and win the championship. Until his debut in the Formula One with Minardi he drove three seasons in the International Formula 3000 championship with some good results.
1993 was a bit of a strange season for Gounon. He tested in 1992 for the Larrousse team though did not manage to get a seat at the team. However, Gounon signed a contract with March F1 Team for 1993 where he would join Jan Lammers. Sadly, March filled bankruptcy while they arrived at the South African Grand Prix in 1993. Therefore, most of the season Gounon was to simply sit out as there were no seats. He was later that year contacted by the Minardi team to replace Christian Fittipaldi who got kicked out of the Minardi team. He replaced him for the Japanese and Australian Grand Prix. In 1994 he returned on the grid in mid-season for the Simtek team. From 1995 on he appeared in the Touringcars and endurance series.
Jeffrey van Hooydonk(BE) – (T)
Active year: 2004
Jeffrey van Hooydonk is one of the many drivers that appeared in a Formula One test during the mid-2000s. He started his Autosport career in 1996 in the Formula Renault where he was pretty successful in his first year. In 1997 he would also make his Formula 3 debut during the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort. Eventually he would finish sixth during the 1998 German Formula 3 championship. The years that came he races in the International Formula 3000 series and in touringcar series like Belcar with every now and then good results. Eventually he returned to the German Formula 3 championship in 2002 still not the big successes he would love to have.
Times started to change as he had his first Formula One test with the Minardi team in 2004. He tested with the Minardi PS04B at Misano the 26th of November. He only completed 5 laps with the Minardi with a best time of 1.15,350. However, it seemed it was enough to be in interest at Minardi to become their official test driver for 2005. The plan was to sign a two year deal as Minardi driver. This all never materialised. Eventually he would become Midland’s test driver in 2005. He even got his super license the 8th of December 2005. Though, he would not return to the Formula One after this test.
Jirko Malchárek(SK) – (T)
Active year: 2002
Jirko Malchárek is Slovakia’s former Minister of Economy. Occasionally he is also active in the Autosport. The first time he appeared on the starting grid was during a Porsche Supercup race in 1998, two years later he would appear again in the Porsche supercup. In 2001 and 2002 Jirko was active in the FIA GT series. In 2002 he appeared at the start of one race for the FIA GT3 European Championship when they raced at the Slovakia Race. However, the interesting part had yet to come as Paul Stoddart had asked Jirko if he wanted to become Minardi’s test driver.
In early June Jirko tested for Minardi’s Formula 3000 team before he would do a seat fitting with the team. It’s the 5th of June 2002 Minardi came with a press-release that Jirko Malchárek was signed as Minardi’s test-driver for the remaining season. He was signed by the team after Jirko had tested with the Minardi PS01B at Vairano that sameday. During that period it happened occasionally that Minardi tested new aerodynamics with an older PS01B fitted with the 2002 livery. Interestingly is that Matteo Bobbi was also signed as Minardi’s test driver that season.
There was more or less a scandal that Jirko was assigned as Minardi’s test driver. Stoddart even came with an comment stating that he is not ashamed Jirko also tested the Minardi due to the sponsorship and the interest for future sponsors in Eastern-Europe. He tested a couple of time for the Minardi team. After his Minardi adventure he returned to GT Racing again.
João Barbosa(PT) – (T)
Active year: 1996
Barbosa is one of the drivers that early in his career appeared in a Formula One car. After a couple of years karting Barbosa made his debut in the Portuguese Formula Ford in 1994, he won the series with several wins. For 1995 he moved to the Italian Formula Boxer championship, this was an series similar to the Formula Renault 2.0. The car was fitted with an Alfa Romeo 1.7l 16v engine. He won the championship. A year later he would appear in the Italian Formula 3 championship for Prema, winning one race and 7 other podium let him to finish the season as runner-up which was won by Oliver Martini.
Thanks to his good results with in the Italian Formula 3 he was invited by Minardi to test for the team. At the age of 21 João took place behind the wheel of the Minardi M195B during the youngsters test at Misano the 28th of October. Besides him also Boldrini and Tuero. With an 1.18,220 he was the slowest of the three. After his test Barbosa continued his career in America when he made his debut in the Formula Atlantic which he was 7th overall that season. From 2000 on he would race in the American Le Mans Series – GT for a couple of season, showing some good results he would continue racing in the states. He started racing in the LMP1 series in America from 2004 on and since then he became an ace in Le Mans series. Winning the 24 Hours of Daytona several timesin 2014 and 2015 he won the SportsCar Championship. Up to today he is still competitive in the Sportscars.
Johnny Herbert(GB) – (X2)
Active year: 2004
I don’t think there are many who never heard of Johnny Herbert. Winning the Formula Ford Festival in 1986 and British Formula 3 Championship in 1987 with Eddie Jordan Racing he was in the picture with many teams in the Formula One. In 1988 Herbert had a massive shunt at Brands Hatch during the International Formula 3000 race there. It took a while to recover from his foot injuries it would effect his future life. Though, It wouldn’t take long before he would debut in the Formula One. In 1989 he made his debut with Benetton in the B188B finishing in the points at his first race, thanks to a 4th place during the Brazilian Grand Prix. He drove for Tyrrell two races in 1989 the second race failing to qualify the car.
In the early 1990s he made some side trips to Japan where he would race in the Japanese Formula 3 championship and the All-Japan Sports Prototype Championship. Every now and then he would compete a couple of races for Team Lotus. Eventually he was signed in 1992 by Team Lotus as one of their drivers. In 1995 he would replace Jos Verstappen at Benetton winning the British and Italian Grand Prix. He competed for Sauber a couple of years before he end up at Stewart Grand Prix, winning that insane European Grand Prix! His last season was for Jaguar, who purchased the Stewart team. After 2000 Tom Walkinshaw signed Herbert in 2001 as their test driver. He would race a couple of year in the American Le Mans Series. In 2012 he would retire from the autosport.
However, what many don’t know is that Herbert did drive for Minardi. This was during the charity that was held at Kyalami. Where he would race in the 2-seaters the 9th of August 2004. In race one his passenger was Philip Kekana while during race two his passenger was Gugu Zulu finishing 2nd during the race. An interesting fact, Paul Stoddart was interested to hire Johnny Herbert for 2001.
Jos Verstappen(NL) – (T)(D)(X2)
Active years: 2003 – 2004
Jos Verstappen has an interesting history with the Minardi team. After his karting career Jos debuted in 1992 in the Formula Opel Lotus Benelux which he managed to win. In the Euroseries he managed to win two races while he won the EFDA Nations Cup. In 1993 he would move to the German Formula 3 Championship dominating and winning the championship he attracted the attention of McLaren en Footwork. For both teams he tested and his results were amazing. In between he won the Marlboro Masters and won several races in the Formula Atlantic. While a test contact with McLaren would have been better one of the mistakes was made by signing for Benetton, sadly one of the mistakes.
Under contract at Benetton he replaced JJ Lehto after his after two races Lehto returned to the cockpit only to be replaced by Jos again after the Canadian Grand Prix. The pressure on Jos was high though when needed he finished as 3rd during the Hungarian Grand Prix, at SPA he would eventually finish as 3rd again. This all happened after his pit fire during the German Grand Prix. Replaced by Herbert after the European Grand Prix. For 1995 Jos was still a test driver for Benetton though he signed also a deal with the Simtek team. The team had a decent car only lacked the financial backing. Where Barbara Behlau was buying with her own money the food for the crew during the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix, it became clear that Simtek was at the end of the road. Jos shown his pure talent with the car, who remembers the Brazilian Grand Prix?
The years to come were a mis match if you ask me, racing for Arrows in 1996 he came in contact for the first time with Tom Walkinshaw. It was a decent season, scoring a point though it was not enough to stay at Arrows. In 1997 he signed the contract with Tyrrell. This was not the season he thought it would be. Scoring no points with a sale looming for the team Jos saw himself with no seat in early 1998. Rumours went wild that Williams, Ligier and Suaber were interested. Though, mid-season he found a seat at Stewart Grand Prix. Again, this seemed a mis match as the results were poor. Luck was looming as he would become the test driver for the Honda F1 team, their plans were to debut in 2000 or 2001 in the Formula One. Sadly, Honda stopped with their project after Dr. Harvey Postlethwaite passed away.
In 2000 he returned to Arrows, which seemed a good choice. The Arrows A21 was successfully and both Jos and his team mate Pedro de la Rosa managed to score points on regular base. Another legendary race was the 2000 Canadian Grand Prix. Prior the 2001 season Arrows was looking for a new engine, and seemed to have found it in AMT. In 2001 he would race again for the team, though with less success scoring only once a point. In 2002 he was to race for the team again, the Arrows A23 was build around him, though Tom simply ditched Jos Verstappen and was replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen. As wrote earlier, Jos had the opportunity to sign a test contract for Ferrari though all he wanted was to race. There were several rumours that Jaguar, Sauber and Jordan were interested to hire Jos. I still believe that Arrows would have survived with Jos and Heinz as their drivers. Though, we should not forget that the Phoenix Grand Prix struggle also played a big role.
For 2003 Jos Verstappen returned in the Formula One when with the help of sponsors like Trust, Wilux and Halfords the contract could be signed with Minardi. However, in February 2003 the Minardi team was far from certain they would appear on the grid. There was no contract signed with a tyre manufacturer at that time you had Michelin and Bridgestone. The first time Jos tested with a Minardi was the 30th of January 2003. He appeared on the Valencia track with an Minardi PS01B on Avon tyres. Only for some seat fitting and testing. He completed 47 laps with a best time of 1.15,190.
Though Jos would appear for the first time in the new Minardi, the PS03, the 26th of February 2003 at Imola. His best time was 1.27,300. The team signed a contract with Bridgestone and the package seemed pretty good. However, it wasn’t if you look at the results from the team. While the team did came with updates it did not really help the team, as well the team lacked the proper financial backing. Paul Stoddart in the meantime purchased a lot of assets of the Orange Arrows team that went in bankruptcy in the summer of 2002. The intention was to test the Arrows A23 and compare it with the Minardi PS03. If you know the history of Super Aguri that appeared in 2005 on the grid, you would know that they appeared with the Arrows A23!
Jos Verstappen tested for the first time with the Minardi A23, nee Minardi PS04, the 16th of September 2003 at Mugello. He was impressed by the car, remember the A23 was designed around Jos Verstappen. Eventually some parts of the A23 were used on the Minardi PS03 and later on the Minardi PS04B. While Verstappen had some options for 2004 with Sauber, Jaguar, Jordan and even Minardi he did not return on the grid. What many don’t know either is that Verstappen almost drove some races for Minardi in 1999! Though due to testing he was unable.
In between Jos drove also around with the Minardi 2-seater. The first time was the 31th of August 2003 at Rockinham. In 2004 he briefly returned to Minardi to again race with the Minardi 2-seaters. This time the 26th of November 2004 at Misano. Robert Doornbos drove that day as well.
José María López(AR) – (T)
Active year: 2003
While Mazzacane had just left the Formula One another Argentinian talent was working his way towards Formula One. After his karting career he made his debut in the Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2001. A year later he would compete in the Eurocup and the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 championship, he managed to win the title and moved on to the Formula Renault V6 series in 2003 which managed to win as well. During the season he was testing for the Renault team.
As Paul Stoddart was looking for drivers in 2004, he organised a youngsters test in November 2003. The 13th of November 2003 he took place behind the wheel of the Minardi PS03 at Vallelunga. He managed to complete 61 laps with a best time of 1,11.678. While he did a pretty good job he would not become one of Minardi’s drivers in 2004. That season he moved to the International Formula 3000 championship. In 2005 he competed in the newly formed GP2 he would combine that with his test work for the Renault F1 team. In 2006 he would stay testdriver for the team only to return back to Argentine in 2007. He became pretty competitive in the TC2000 series. In 2010 he would debut in the Formula One with the USF1 team that’s after 13 years still struggling with their crashed server.
Josele Garza(MX) – (T)
Active year: 1988
Garza is one of the lesser known drivers that have tested in the Formula One. He made in 1979 his debut in the Formula Ford series as well he appeared in the IMSA. In 1980 he would debut in the Formula Super Vee and finished the championship as runner-up. He also started racing in the Mini-Indy series. In 1981 he made his debut in the Indycar series with decent results. He would stay in the Indycar for several years he would also appear in the Formula Atlantic. In 1986 he appeared for the first time on the grid in the Formula One. He did a Friday practice for the Brabham team during the Mexican Grand Prix. It seems that he came close to race for either Minardi or Brabham. The 2nd of September 1988 he tested with the Minardi M188 at Imola. While doing a great job he did not manage to get a seat in the Formula One. As he was unable to, he retired at the age of 25 from autosport.
Juan Cáceres(UY) – (T)
Active year: 2005
I believe Cáceres is one of the unknown drivers that tested for Minard in 2005. There isn’t much known about Juan Cáceres. It seems that he appeared in 2001 in the Italian Formula Renault 2.0 championship and in the Argentinian Formula Super Renault where he would race in 2002 as well. In 2003 he won the Formula BMW Junior Iberia championship, the same year he appeared as well in the unknown Zip Formula series. Debuting in the Spanish Formula 3 championship in 2004 he moved TO the Italian Formula 3000 championship in 2005. As Minardi was sold to Red Bull the team held one big last test session at Vallelunga. Juan was invited as well. He took place behind the wheel of the Minardi PS05 the 23th of November, he completed 10 laps with a best time of 1.21,019. A year later he would race for Minardi in the Euroseries 3000. In 2007 he started racing in the TC2000 in Argentina. After 2010 he retired.
Justin Wilson(GB) – (T)(D)
Active years: 2002 – 2003
Passed away too early Justin Wilson appeared for the first time in a Minardi in 2002. Though, before he made it that far he debuted in 1995 in the Formula Vauxhall Junior he finished that year as 3rd in the standing winning three races. A year later he would made his debut in the Formula Vauxhall for Paul Stewart racing finishing as runner-up he would stay another year though with less success. In 1998 he moved to the Formula Palmer a mostly forgotten championship. He won the championship that year and moved to the International Formula 3000 series for three seasons, he managed to win the championship in 2001. The same year he would test for the Jordan Grand Prix team. Having one side race in the FIA GT he moved in 2002 to the World series by Nissan. He would also have his first taste in the American Le Mans series.
In 2002 Justin Wilson appeared in the Minardi PS01B during the Thunder at the Park in 2002 at Donnington park the 9th of August. Having a contract signed with Minardi to race for the team in 2003 he had the same problem as Jos Verstappen. When he tested for the first time with the team in 2003 there was only the Minardi PS01B fitted with Avon tyres. Wilson tested the car the 29th of January at Valencia. Completing 45 laps his best time was 1.17,066. The 26th of February 2003 he would test for the first time with the Minardi PS03, this was the same day as Jos Verstappen at Imola. His best time was a 1,27.500. After the 2003 British Grand Prix Justin Wilson moved to the Jaguar team where he managed to score a point during the American Grand Prix finishing 8th.
A year later Wilson would made his final move to America where he would appear in the Champ Car series. In 2008 he started racing in Indycars which he would do competitively until his tragic death in 2015.
Katherine Legge(GB) – (T)
Active year: 2005
Was for a long time the last woman that tested with a Formula One car. Katherine made her debut in 2000 in the Formula Ford championship, in 2000 she became the first woman that put a Formula Ford zetec on a pole position. In 2001 she made the move to the British Formula Renault 2.0 championship she would stay there the next season to move to the British Formula 3 Championship in 2003. A year later she returned to the British Formula Renault 2.0. 2004 was also the year she moved to the United States to race there. In 2005 she mad much more luck in the Toyota Atlantic finishing 3rd in the standings.
Like Juan Cáceres she was invited as well by Paul Stoddart to test one of the Minardi PS05’s. She tested the 23th of November at Vallelunga and completed 10 laps with a best time of 1,21.109. After her test she moved to the Champcar series to eventually race in the DTM. Only to return to the States where she is racing today in the Nascar inifinty series and Indycars.
Laurent Redon(FR) – (T)
Active years: 1997 – 1998
Laurent had a short career in the motorsports, he made his debut in 1994 in the French Formula 3 championship. A year later he would appear again in the French Formula 3 Championship which he won. In 1996 and 1997 he would move to the International Formula 3000 series, though as happened with many other drivers he was not that successful in the series. Then in 1997 Redon would test for the first time with a Formula One car. In December 1997 he tested with the Minardi M197 at Catalunya. A year later he would test with the Minardi M198 a couple of times. At that time he was rumoured to become one Minardi’s drivers in 1999. Eventually he did not, instead he became Benetton’s test driver. In 2001 he would made his debut in the American Le Mans series. In 2002 he made his debut in Indy Racing League though retired after the season as his daughter was born.
Luca Badoer(I) – (T)(D)
Active years: 1994 – 1995 / 1997 / 1999
Luca is one of the drivers that kept along in the Formula one for a long time from early 1990s until 2009 when he would race a couple of races for the Ferrari team. In 1989 he made his debut in the Italian Formula 3 Championship where he would stay from 1990 up to 1992 with some good results. In 1992 he moved to the International Formula 3000 championship which he managed to win. For 1993 he managed to sign a contract with Scuderia Italia in the Formula One. Where the team had some success in 1993 it was all different. The Lola T93/30 was far from competitive and both Badoer and Alboreto failed to impress. After Scuderia Italia left he tested for the Benetton team.
In 1994 Badoer became Minardi’s test driver, he tested a lot with the Minardi M193B. He was one of the first drivers to test the Minardi M194 that would make later in 1994 it’s debut on the grid. The first time was at Mugello. It seems Minardi was impressed by him and offered him a contract for 1995. His best result with the Minardi M195 was an eight place during the Canadian and Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1996 he left Minardi, while he wanted to stay, and joined forces with Forti Corse.
After a disappointing season with Forti Badoer moved to FIA GT in 1997 he became as well a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari, he would be this for 13 years. In 1997 he tested as well for Minardi again he tested the car at Monza. In 1998 he was mostly focused on his test duties for the Ferrari team. However, in 1999 Luca Badoer returned to Minardi. He would race that season with the M01. During the European Grand Prix he was racing on P4, 13 laps before the end his gearbox broke down, the fans still feel that pain and the image of Badoer crying is burned in our brains. Eventually was his best result an 8th place during the San Marino Grand Prix. After 1999 he stayed Ferrari’s test driver. He got the opportunity in 2009 to race for the team. He retired in 2010 and appears now at Historic events.
Luca Filippi(I) – (T)
Active year: 2005
After a couple of years in karting Filippi would make his debut in the Autosport in the 2003 European Formula Renault 2.0 championship as well in the Italian Formula 2.0 Championship. In 2004 he stayed in both championship and finished the Italian series as 3rd overall. In 2005 he would win the Italian F3000 series, winning the series was the door that opened his path to test for the Minardi team. Like many other he tested in November 2005 for the team. He tested the 23th of November with the Minardi PS05.
After his test with Minardi he moved to the newly formed GP2. He would race in the GP2 as well the Asian GP2 until 2012. In 2007 he became as well a test driver for Super Aguri and the Honda F1 Team. He raced Aswell in the AUTO GP. In 2012 started racing in the GT championships this seemed to suit him much better, though he went to the United States to race in the Indycar series.
Luis Pérez-Sala(ES) – (T)
Active years: 1988 – 1989
Luis was the second Spanish driver that drove for the Minardi team. In 1982 he made his debut in the Alfasprint European Cup a year later he would be the runner-up of the series. For 1984 he made his debut in the European Formula 3 Championship and the Italian Formula 3 Championship. In 1985 he would stay in the Formula 3. As many driver did he move to the International Formula 3000 championship in 1986 and 1987 finishing again as runner-up. He also debuted in the FIA World Touringcar Championship for Bigazzi. As if it wasn’t enough he tested also for Coloni a couple of times with the FC187.
For 1988 Luis signed a contract with Minardi to race for the team. He had a decent first season in the Formula One with Minardi. If they had the point system we have today in the Formula One he would have scored a good amount of points. His best result in 1988 was a 8th place during the Portuguese Grand Prix. In 1989 he would stay with Minardi. First racing with the M188B to debut the M189 during the Mexican Grand Prix. Eventually he managed to score a point by finishing 6th during the British Grand Prix. Trying out a prototype race in 1990 in 1991 he return racing in the Spanish Touringcar Championship winning it instantly. In 1993 he won the championship again. He would stay in the series until 1996. A brief return was made in 2004 in the Porsche supercup.