Formula 1 flashback: Minardi's greatest day

Formula 1 flashback: Minardi's greatest day

13 March 2014 – Throughout the 2014 season, GPUpdate.net will be publishing a special Formula 1 flashback in the run up to each event. For the Australian Grand Prix edition, we conversed with former Minardi team boss and popular paddock figure Paul Stoddart, who oversaw Mark Webber's sensational fifth place finish in 2002.

"It was a crazy week," recalls Stoddart in a vibrant tone. "Obviously, with Mark being Australian and me being Australian, it was a pretty big deal from a PR point of view. We had been running all week doing two-seater events and other events for the Australian Grand Prix all over the place. We were kind of run off our feet.

"In qualifying, my main concern was about getting both cars into the race on the Sunday. I was pretty confident that Mark would be able to make it, but I wasn't so confident about Alex Yoong. About halfway through the qualifying session it started to pour down with rain, and that pretty much locked the grid in where it was.

"We'd had all this publicity and now we'd got two cars into the race. That, for me, was pretty much it. We then thought we would have an average Sunday. We hoped that Mark could finish in the top 12 or something."

What followed was beyond Stoddart, Webber and Minardi's wildest dreams. A first corner melee – sparked by Ralf Schumacher's Williams launching over the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello – dramatically took eight cars out of the running, with Webber and Yoong crucially guiding the two Minardis safely through the littered debris.

Further retirements and gritty driving saw Webber holding a points-scoring position as the laps ticked down to single figures. He then survived an attack from Mika Salo's Toyota to bring his car home and secure the team's only points of the 2002 campaign.

"The first corner pile-up took out a lot of cars, but both Minardis got through," Stoddart continues. "Progressively, through retirements and everything else, we got closer and closer to the end. With about ten laps to go, Mika Salo was chasing Mark down in a quicker car, but he spun. Then the whole crowd were just willing Mark on."

But Stoddart reiterated that, even after Salo's mistake, tensions remained high on the pit wall: "I had a slightly different perspective as we knew that the car was technically dead from the third lap with a differential problem. We were trying hard not to get too excited, as we thought it wasn't going to make the chequered flag. But it did.

"I think [race winner Michael] Schumacher told the best story as for the last four laps, every time he crossed the line, he thought the race was over because the crowd were on their feet. But they were cheering for Mark. He ultimately took fifth, and they were without question the most famous two points in the history of Formula 1."

What followed the initial pit lane celebrations was a jubilant second podium ceremony, during which Stoddart and Webber lapped up the applause from the thousands of gathered spectators. It is a scene that, in Stoddart's mind, will never be topped.

"It was the greatest day of my life and the greatest day of Minardi's life," Stoddart comments. "Yes we scored points at Indianapolis in 2005 but they weren't really points. It was a very special moment. And still to this day people say, 'You know when you and Mark won the Grand Prix?' They really believe that we won it.

"It was one of those very rare occasions in life when something absolutely spectacular happens."

Mike Seymour
Twitter: @MikeSeymourF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Wednesday 23 August 2017

  2. De Vries, Delétraz swap seats in Formula 2 12:54

    De Vries, Delétraz swap seats in Formula 2

    McLaren young driver Nyck de Vries has switched from Rapax to Racing Engineering from the upcoming Formula 2 round at…

    F2
  3. Sauber looks for boost with new floor design 12:52

    Sauber looks for boost with new floor design

    Sauber will add a new floor to its C36-Ferraris for the Belgian Grand Prix as the team bids to make up ground after a difficult…

    F1
  4. McLaren chiefs reiterate belief in Vandoorne 11:28

    McLaren chiefs reiterate belief in Vandoorne

    McLaren chiefs Eric Boullier and Zak Brown have reiterated their belief in Stoffel Vandoorne, following confirmation that he…

    F1
  5. Guy Martin joins Williams crew for Belgium 11:25

    Guy Martin joins Williams crew for Belgium

    Motorcycle racer and TV personality Guy Martin will join Williams as a mechanic for this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at…

    F1
  6. McLaren formally confirms Vandoorne for 2018 11:03

    McLaren formally confirms Vandoorne for 2018

    McLaren has formally confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will continue with the team in 2018, as planned. Vandoorne stepped up…

    F1
  7. Video: Rosberg's W07 joins Mercedes museum 10:36

    Video: Rosberg's W07 joins Mercedes museum

    Check out the latest vlog from reigning Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg as the Mercedes W07, which he piloted to the 2016…

    F1
  8. 09:22

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  9. Mercedes avoiding 'dangerous' assumptions 09:20

    Mercedes avoiding 'dangerous' assumptions

    Toto Wolff says Mercedes is ignoring "dangerous" assumptions over its prospects at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, as Formula…

    F1
  10. Video: Hamilton let loose on a skid pan 05:32

    Video: Hamilton let loose on a skid pan

    What happens when you let a multiple Formula 1 World Champion loose in a Mercedes-AMG beast on a damp skid pan at Mercedes-Benz…

    F1
  11. Tuesday 22 August 2017

  12. 17:02

    Gallery: Räikkönen at Santander Helsinki event

    F1
  13. Tech chief Key extends Toro Rosso deal 16:19

    Tech chief Key extends Toro Rosso deal

    James Key has extended his contract with Toro Rosso to remain as the team's Technical Director. Key, 45, began his Formula 1…

    F1
  14. Norris: F2 'more likely option' for 2018 16:14

    Norris: F2 'more likely option' for 2018

    McLaren protégé Lando Norris says a move into Formula 2 is his "more likely option" for 2018, though has stressed that his…

    F3
  15. Video: European F3 Zandvoort highlights 14:12

    Video: European F3 Zandvoort highlights

    Watch highlights of last weekend's trio of European Formula 3 races at Circuit Zandvoort.

    F3
  16. 11:32

    Overview: 2018 Formula 1 line-ups so far

    F1
  17. Ferrari keeps Räikkönen for 2018 season 11:29

    Ferrari keeps Räikkönen for 2018 season

    Ferrari has announced that Kimi Räikkönen will continue to race with the team in Formula 1 next season, ending speculation…

    F1
  18. F1 teams load up on Super Softs for Italy 10:09

    F1 teams load up on Super Softs for Italy

    Formula 1 teams have loaded up on the softest available tyre for the Italian Grand Prix, which directly follows this weekend's…

    F1
  19. Video: Super Formula Motegi highlights 10:03

    Video: Super Formula Motegi highlights

    Watch as Pierre Gasly takes his maiden Super Formula victory during the series' Motegi round.

    SF
  20. Renault to update engine at Spa, Monza 09:04

    Renault to update engine at Spa, Monza

    Renault will bring software and hardware updates to the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix, as it pushes to close the gap to rival…

    F1
  21. Kubica 'delivered well' in 2017-spec F1 test 08:12

    Kubica 'delivered well' in 2017-spec F1 test

    Robert Kubica "delivered well" on his official Formula 1 test return at the Hungaroring earlier this month, according to Renault…

    F1
  22. Belgian GP preview: F1 gets Spa treatment 07:02

    Belgian GP preview: F1 gets Spa treatment

    After a month-long break to recharge batteries, F1 will burst back into life with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps…

    F1
  23. Video: Rosberg vlogs with a Hamilton hat 05:38

    Video: Rosberg vlogs with a Hamilton hat

    Nico Rosberg films his first official 'vlog' as he heads to Stuttgart for the Mercedes-Benz Museum fan event. But why does a…

    F1
  24. Monday 21 August 2017

  25. Video: F1 2017 video game at Zandvoort 16:32

    Video: F1 2017 video game at Zandvoort

    Until 1985, Circuit Zandvoort hosted the Dutch Grand Prix. To celebrate the upcoming video game release of F1 2017, Koch Media…

    F1
  26. Harvey to enter final two rounds with SPM 13:53

    Harvey to enter final two rounds with SPM

    Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has confirmed its driver plans for the remainder of the season, handing Jack Harvey the final two…

    Indy
  27. 13:21

    Overview: Belgian Grand Prix F1 schedule

    F1
  28. Force India still hoping for podium finish 13:00

    Force India still hoping for podium finish

    Force India still harbours hopes of a podium finish during the 2017 season and is "ready to take" any opportunity, says team…

    F1
  29. Haas to start with Brembo brakes at Spa 11:59

    Haas to start with Brembo brakes at Spa

    Haas team boss Guenther Steiner has confirmed that both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen will start the Belgian Grand Prix…

    F1
  30. Abraham gets new Aspar deal for 2018 10:34

    Abraham gets new Aspar deal for 2018

    Karel Abraham will remain with Aspar through 2018, having performed "much better" than the team expected on his MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  31. Gasly revels in 'very special' SF triumph 10:32

    Gasly revels in 'very special' SF triumph

    Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly described his maiden victory in the Super Formula championship as "very special", after he…

    SF
  32. Video: IndyCar Pocono race day highlights 09:33

    Video: IndyCar Pocono race day highlights

    Watch highlights of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, also known as the Tricky Triangle.

    Indy
  33. Norris takes title lead after Zandvoort double 09:12

    Norris takes title lead after Zandvoort double

    McLaren-backed Lando Norris moved into the lead of the European Formula 3 Championship with a commanding performance at…

    F3
  34. Formula 1 launches eSports championship 09:01

    Formula 1 launches eSports championship

    Formula 1 has announced the launch of its first official eSports series. Starting in September 2017, fans and gamers from…

    F1
  35. Video: Mercedes-Benz's W125 from 1937 05:42

    Video: Mercedes-Benz's W125 from 1937

    Take a look at the dominant Mercedes-Benz W125, which was the car to beat in the 1937 Grand Prix season.

    F1
  36. Sunday 20 August 2017

  37. 22:49

    Latest IndyCar photos: Sunday at Pocono

    Indy
  38. Power wins Pocono with strategy, persistence 22:47

    Power wins Pocono with strategy, persistence

    Will Power delivered a precise and tactical final two stints in an eventful race at Pocono on Sunday to hold off Josef Newgarden…

    Indy
  39. Hunter-Reay gets green light for Pocono 15:17

    Hunter-Reay gets green light for Pocono

    Ryan Hunter-Reay has been cleared to race at Pocono later on Sunday in the wake of his hefty accident during…

    Indy
  40. Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat 14:17

    Verstappen doubts Red Bull win threat

    Max Verstappen feels it will still be "tough" for Red Bull to compete with Mercedes and Ferrari when Formula 1 returns from its…

    F1
  41. Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative 12:22

    Wehrlein hopes for non-DTM alternative

    Pascal Wehrlein says the "second way" of reaching Formula 1 will no longer be possible for any Mercedes-backed youngsters…

    F1
  42. Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway 11:34

    Video: Visor Cam at Pocono Raceway

    Ride along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal during his qualifying run at Pocono.

    Indy
  43. Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash 10:02

    Hunter-Reay in doubt for race after crash

    Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay will need to be cleared to drive by IndyCar's medical team on Sunday, following a hefty…

    Indy
  44. In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments 09:42

    In photos: Formula 1's iconic Spa moments

    Formula 1 returns from its summer break next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, which takes place at the legendary…

    F1
more news