Emotional goodbye for Minardi 25 Nov 2005
The weather was appropriately funereal as the 21-year history of the Minardi team as an active participant in Formula One came to an end yesterday. It was the team's final day of running under its current name with the fourth day of testing at the Autodromo Vallelunga near Rome - from next season the team will be rebranded as the Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Under wintery sunshine, the day turned into a farewell party as a group of dedicated fans and supporters gathered to say goodbye to the team. Former Minardi drivers Mark Gene and Gianni Morbidelli were guests of honour - and the Minardi-branded "F1x2" two-seater cars were in action for high-speed guest rides, Morbidelli, Robert Doorbos and Patrick Friesacher handling the driving duties. Fittingly, it was down to Paul Stoddart, team boss for the last five years, to drive the final lap in a Minardi.
"It turned out to be a more emotional experience than I expected," he said, "For so many years, Minardi has tried to give so much to so many, and it has been very touching this week to have received so many positive comments. Now the team has moved on to become Squadra Toro Rosso, I wish them every success, although I know I'm not alone in thinking it will always be Minardi in the minds of so many people. On a final note, Minardi is only what it is because of the people within the team, and I have enjoyed the best five years of my life working with some truly professional individuals. Thank you to all of them."
The team - and the spirit it personified - will be missed.