JUNE 10, 1996
Minardi and Ferrari talking
GIANCARLO MINARDI is once again trying to convince Fiat management that he should be sold old Ferrari engines. The Italian team owner wants to buy the V12s which were raced in 1995 by Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger. They would be prepared and developed by a company called Oral Engineering in Modena, which employs a number of former Ferrari staff, including ex-technical director Mauro Forghieri.
Minardi has been looking for an engine supply since Flavio Briatore somehow convinced Mugen Honda to break a contract with Minardi for 1995 and supply its engines to Ligier instead. This was a devastating blow to Minardi and the team has struggled ever since with customer Ford engines, despite having what is clearly quite a good little chassis.
The Minardi family have powerful connections within Fiat, having established the very first Fiat dealership in Italy in 1927. Today Giancarlo runs the family racing team while his brother Giuseppe runs the Fiat dealership and a third brother Nando runs the Iveco (Fiat) truck business.
The Minardi-Ferrari link in racing dates back to 1976 when Ferrari agreed to loan one of its 312/T2 to Scuderia Everest, run by Giancarlo Minardi. The following year he ran a Ferrari-engined Formula 2 team with drivers including Elio de Angelis and the team even won a European F2 race at Misano thanks to the efforts of driver Lamberto Leoni.
Thirteen years later - in the middle of 1990 - Minardi announced that it would use Ferrari engines in 1991. The deal took Minardi to seventh in the Constructors' Championship - its best ever finish - with Pierluigi Martini scoring two fourth places. Financial difficulties and management changes at Ferrari ended the deal after just one season.
In September last year Minardi tried to get the old V12 engines but the deal was blocked by Ferrari team boss Jean Todt who did not want the V12s in direct competition with the new V10s. With a year having passed, however, Todt may now be willing to release the engines...
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