Minardi survival would have seen Italians in F1
21 February 2012
Giancarlo Minardi believes that, had he not had to sell his F1 team, there would have been Italians left in F1 to pick up the baton from Jarno Trulli.
The veteran's exit from Caterham last week removed the last remaining Italian driver from the current grid - Tonio Liuzzi had earlier been overlooked by HRT in favour of Narain Karthikeyan - and prompted a great deal of hand-wringing from those lamenting the country's inability to produce a train of talent.
Minardi shares the disappointment, highlighting the economic crisis and its effect on manufacturer involvement in motorsport at all levels, but insists that, had his small privateer effort not been forced out of the sport, he would have continued to champion young talent - and young Italian talent at that.
“Europe is undergoing a severe economic crisis, and Italy is paying a high tariff," the F1 veteran noted, "In contrast, we have growing economies and push hard on their image by using sport as a vehicle for promotion. This makes us helpless, especially in a sport where, at this time, the crisis is being felt.
"Car manufacturers are no longer present as they once were and therefore the teams must balance the books looking for the best balance between receipts and pilots. Today, it [affects the] pilots, but will soon be European circuits giving way to new nations.“
Minardi was particularly frustrated that Italian talent from the lower ranks was not being nurtured up the ladder to F1.
“Our country can count on several pilots of great technical depth and has the best school with the best kart drivers and constructors," he pointed out, "Unfortunately, however, then we stop because we can not make them grow, to move forward in the categories.
"Russia is producing so many talented drivers in the junior formulae, but they are certainly helped by the economic resources of their country. The [Italian] Federation and the FDA have realised that you have the talent to build at home, but to find a sample by Ferrari will take time because we are the first to kick up a fuss when the Scuderia comes second.
"The last drivers that Minardi tried in 2005, before passing the sceptre to Toro Rosso, were Luca Filippi and Davide Rigon [and], if the team had survived, these guys would be permanently in F1, just like [Giancarlo] Fisichella, Trulli, [Alessandro] Nannini, [Pierluigi] Martini and [Gianni] Morbidelli, who also began with the team."
As well as blaming the economy and the Italian set-up, Minardi also took a swipe at motorsport's governing body, the FIA, for failing to support the smaller teams that would nurture young talent.