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.