Minardi hits out at F1 Strategy Group’s decision to block Marussia comeback

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Former F1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi has hit out at the F1 Strategy Group for refusing to let Marussia race with its 2014 car and return to the grid for the 2015 season.

The Minardi team was the Caterham or Marussia of its day, often racing at the back of the grid whilst enjoying small, personal victories such as scoring points and even just surviving.

Its grit and determination saw it through some tough times before eventually being sold to Red Bull following the 2005 season after 20 years of racing in F1. The team was then rebranded as Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2006.

Mr. Minardi has remained a vocal figure within the F1 community though, and made his thoughts on the Strategy Group’s decision to reject Marussia’s request perfectly clear.

“It’s absurd and unsportsmanlike behavior”, Minardi told his own website, minardi.it. “The opposing small teams hope to split up the remaining prize money that was due to Marussia, but perhaps they did not count to ten. Get rid of the two Cinderellas – Marussia and Caterham – and the grid shrinks.”

Minardi believes that without the backmarkers, the bigger outfits will find themselves on the back row of the grid and perhaps question their involvement in F1.

“The last row would be occupied by teams with far greater budgets and ambitions, such as Force India, Sauber and Lotus. It could have serious consequences both commercially and in terms of team image.”

Minardi’s comments are indeed salient, for without the backmarkers, the bigger teams spending far bigger amounts will find themselves running about at the very back. This may prompt them to question whether it is worth racing just to finish last, resulting in future withdrawals.

A lack of success on track was the main reason behind Toyota, BMW and Honda’s withdrawals from F1 in 2008 and 2009, causing the sport to lose three major manufacturers.

Marussia’s story is not over yet though. Despite the Strategy Group refusing to let it racing using its 2014 car, the team has outlined its plans to return to the grid in 2015 under the name Manor Grand Prix, with fresh investment giving the operation new hope for the year ahead.

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).