16.10.2005 With the announcement that Red Bull will rename Minardi next year, this afternoon's Chinese Grand Prix will mark the final time that this proud F1 name will take to the grid

Energy drinks giant Red Bull officially announced yesterday that following the completion of its takeover of the Minardi Formula 1 Team on 1st November, the Faenza-based outfit will become known as 'Squadra Toro Rosso', thus consigning of of Grand Prix racing's longest-standing names to the history books. This afternoon's Chinese Grand Prix - the final race of the year - will mark the final time that Formula One cars bearing this proud name will ever take to grid.

Founded by Giancarlo Minardi in 1979, with the aim of competing in the European Formula Two Championship, the Minardi Team made its Formula One debut in 1985. After spending its first few seasons in motorsport’s top category acclimatising to the demands of Grand Prix racing, the team took its first World Championship point in 1988, with the 6th place of Pierluigi Martini in Detroit (USA), then in 1989, scoring in Great Britain (fifth and sixth places), Portugal (fifth) and Australia (sixth).

Minardi's best season to date was 1991, when its effective, Ferrari-powered chassis helped the team to claim seventh place in the final standings of the World Constructors' Championship. In 1992, Minardi switched from Ferrari power to the Lamborghini V12. A sixth-place finish at the Japanese Grand Prix provided the team with a point for its efforts during the season. The 1993 car was designed under the supervision of experienced Austrian, Gustav Brunner, and the chassis proved to be highly effective, fourth place in South Africa, fifth in Monaco, and sixth at Donington and Imola propelling Minardi to eighth place in the Constructors' Championship. During 1994 and 1995, Minardi entered into a joint-venture with Scuderia Italia. Unfortunately, a series of commercial difficulties jeopardised the team's future and, by the end of 1996, an alliance formed by Gabriele Rumi and Flavio Briatore acquired a majority stake in the company.

The 1998 season marked a turning point for Minardi. Briatore severing his ties with the company and his shareholding being acquired by Gabriele Rumi. The successful Italian businessman, who headed up the Fondmetal group of companies, thus became the majority shareholder in the team and embarked on an extensive restructuring and upgrading programme. As a result, Minardi was joined by new, highly skilled personnel on the technical side, with Gustav Brunner making a return to Faenza.

In 1999, the Minardi personnel line-up was further strengthened by the arrival of Cesare Fiorio as Team Manager and Sporting Director. As in 1998, the Faenza-based team was ranked 10th in the final World Championship standings, in this case, courtesy of a very valuable point scored at the European Grand Prix by F1 "rookie", Marc Gené.

Minardi M195
Minardi M187
Minardi M185
Minardi M192
Minardi M188
Minardi M194

Six Minardi Formula One cars to have graced the Grand Prix race  tracks:  the  M185,  M187,  M188,  M192,  M194  and  M195

The final act: the Minardi-Cosworth PS05 racer in action over this weekend during practice for today's Chinese Grand Prix

Giancarlo Minardi

Giancalo Minardi (seen here with Juan Mauel Fangio) founded the eponymous Faenza-based Formula One team a name the has been present in Grand Prix racing for 20  years

Minardi F2

The Minardi team originally competed in the European F2 Championship: here Alessandro Naninni is seen during 1983

Minardi M185

The Minardi team made the step up to F1 in 1985 - here the team and its driver Pierluigi Martini pose with the new  M185

One of the most satisfying aspects of the 1999 season was the excellent reliability of the M01, which helped its drivers to 10 top-10 finishes. The 2000 campaign marked Minardi's 16th year in Formula One, and although the team did not succeed in scoring any points during the course of the season, it retained its tenth-place ranking in the World Championship, finishing ahead of the notably better-funded Prost squad.

The 2001 season marked another watershed for Minardi, the withdrawal of a major sponsor at the end of the previous year leaving the team in difficult financial circumstances. As a result, it was acquired by UK-based Australian businessman, Paul Stoddart, head of the European Aviation Group of companies, and merged with his European Formula Racing operation, based in Ledbury, England. His plan was to retain Minardi's distinct character in the Formula One paddock, while providing EFR personnel, technical expertise and financial stability to strengthen the team and improve its overall competitiveness in the future. The team finished 11th in the 2001 World Constructors' Championship.

Minardi's 2002 effort featured the all-new KL Minardi PS02 chassis, powered by Asiatech's AT02 engine, a strengthened management team, including new Sporting Director, John Walton, and increased commercial backing, in particular, from Malaysia. The season opened with a fantastic result, when new Australian signing, Mark Webber, finished fifth in his "home" Grand Prix. The resulting two points turned out to be extremely valuable, as they secured ninth place for Minardi in the 2002 World Constructors' Championship standings.

In 2003, Minardi entered the third year of Paul Stoddart's five-year plan for the team with an improved technical package based around an evolution of the PS02 chassis and powerful Cosworth Racing CR-3 V10 engine. The high point of the season was undoubtedly Jos Verstappen's weather-assisted, provisional pole position at the conclusion of Friday's first qualifying session for the French Grand Prix. Unfortunately, a lack of funding ultimately meant technical development of the European Minardi PS03 was severely limited, however, and the team slipped back to tenth place in the World Championship as a result. There was one other remarkable event involving Minardi in 2003. It occurred on the Sunday of the team's 301st Grand Prix, and spoke volumes for the contribution made by the Faenza squad to the sport of Formula One. With the inclusion of Marc Gene, deputising for the injured Ralf Schumacher at Williams, eight of the 20 competitors who lined up for the start of the Italian Grand Prix were either current, or former, Minardi drivers - 40 per cent of the grid. The 2003 season may not have been a notably successful one for the team, but that statistic filled everyone concerned with considerable pride.

For the 2004 season, there was a further evolution of the Minardi PS02/PS03 design concept, designated PS04B, with power again provided by Cosworth Racing's potent, 72-degree, CR-3L V10 engine. In the cockpit, Rome's Gianmaria "Gimmi" Bruni steped up from the role of official tester to become a race driver, and he was joined by Zsolt Baumgartner, who became Hungary's first full-time Formula One competitor.

This year the team again campaigned a Cosworth engine, the chassis evolving to become the PS05. The team started with young drivers Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers, the former giving way mid-season to Robert Doornbos, making it an all-Dutch line-up, a first for F1. High point of the final season for Minardi was both cars finishing in the points at the farcical United States Grand Prix, where only the six Bridgestone-shod runners actually started, the Michelin supplied teams having withdrawn on safety grounds. Owner Paul Stoddart made it quite obvious during the course of the year that the team was up for sale and the autumn announcement that Red Bull (who had only last year bought the defunct Jaguar team) was buying the outfit was not unexpected, thus consigning another F1 name to the history books for good.

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The final qualifying session of the 2005 F1 season saw Minardi driver, Christijan Albers, secure 18th position on the grid for tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix, and team mate, Robert Doornbos, the 20th spot

Text: Minardi / © 2005 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed