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In wintery sunshine, the Minardi F1 Team today made its last on-track appearance, Team Principal for the past five years, Paul Stoddart, and official tester, Chanoch Nissany, bringing the final chapter of Minardi's memorable 21-year history F1 at Vallelunga.
In a final gesture, Stoddart took to the Roman circuit late Thursday afternoon, in a lone Minardi Cosworth PS05, in order to salute the small, but enthusiastic, group of dedicated fans and supporters who had gathered to witness the historic occasion.
Fittingly, former Minardi drivers, Marc Gené and Gianni Morbidelli, as well as popular Italian singing star, and long-time supporter of the Faenza squad, Max Gazzè, were among those present. As on the previous three days of the test, the Minardi F1x2 cars were also in action on Thursday, with Morbidelli, plus 2005 Minardi F1 Team drivers, Robert Doornbos and Patrick Friesacher, taking a total of 40 VIP guests, nominated primarily by commercial partner, the Muermans Group, for high-speed rides around the 4.11-km track. The team, which passed into the hands of Austrian energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull, at the beginning of November, now begins a new chapter, as Squadra Toro Rosso.
"It turned out a more emotional experience than I expected to be the last person to drive a Minardi F1 car," Stoddart 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."
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