Twenty-six years on from its last Grand Prix, Minardi M191B chassis #003, equipped with a Lamborghini LE3512 V12 engine and one of the protagonists of Formula One in 1992, is back on the track.
The exciting shakedown organised by Lamborghini Squadra Corse is the result of a meticulous restoration carried out by the company’s “Polo Storico” division with the support of former Lamborghini engineering personnel who were active on the Lamborghini F1 project in the early ’90s.
Minardi M191B #003 is the first single-seater to be restored by Polo Storico. After being on display at the Lamborghini Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the car underwent seven months of work to return to its original efficiency, with most of the original components maintained.
The tyres, fuel tank, engine control unit, seat belts, and fire extinguishing system were replaced, while the other components were carefully restored, starting from the engine designed by Mauro Forghieri. The 12-cylinder LE3512 is still able to deliver the original almost 700 hp, enabling enthusiasts to relive the emotions of the golden years of Formula One.
The guests of honour on the occasion of its return to life were Mirko Bortolotti, a Lamborghini factory driver, and Giancarlo Minardi.
The founder of the Faenza-based team recalled the fruitful collaboration with Lamborghini that lasted for the entire 1992 season: “Seeing the models of 25 or 30 years ago is still exciting. They are the last cars before the beginning of telemetry and automatic transmissions. Apart from the growling noise, which still today brings back those wonderful times, it was a very flexible engine with enormous power starting from the low rpms.”
Entrusted to drivers Gianni Morbidelli and Christian Fittipaldi, the Minardi M191B #003 competed in the first four Grand Prix races of 1992, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil and Spain.
The M191 had been built for the 1991 season when Minardi used Ferrari V12 engines and a “B” spec chassis with the new Lamborghini unit installed started off the 1992 season before the new M192 arrived in time for the San Marino GP.
The best result achieved by this car was 11th place with Christian Fittipaldi at the wheel at the Spanish GP.
Lamborghini had arrived in F1 with this engine in 1989 when the Italian carmaker’s then owner Chrysler decided to put the brand into F1, debuting in a somewhat low-key manner in the back of a Larrousse-run Lola chassis and its arrangement with the backmarker French team would run right the way through until it terminated the project at the end of 1993 after Chrysler sold Lamborghini to Tommy Suharto.
As well as Minardi in 1992, Lotus ran this engine in 1990 while Ligier and Team Modena used it for the 1991 season. The cars all ran with “Lamborghini by Chrysler” badging on the engine covers.
In 1993 Lamborghini thought they finally had their breakthrough when the McLaren team modified a chassis to fit the engine and conducted a testing programme with Ayrton Senna behind the wheel. The Brazilian was keen to debut the engine before the end of the season, feeling it had to be a better proposition than the Ford units the British team were using that year. However, McLaren eventually chose to run with Peugeot engines for the 1994 season.
Now M191B chassis #003 is ready to return to racing and competing in the championships dedicated to historic F1 races as the testing outcome was regarded as very positive. The car ran more than 20 laps without any problem.
Minardi - Lamborghini M191B Photos / Video
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