AutoRacingHistory.com, August 2008
In the waning laps of the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, Takuma Sato, driving the underdog, underpowered, underdeveloped, under funded Super Aguri, passed Fernando Alonso, the two-time World Champion driving the all powerful, obscenely funded McLaren-Mercedes for sixth position. The French Canadian crowd went wild. I, along with many other Formula 1 fans, became hooked on Sato-Mania. From then on, until the fifth race of the 2008 season, I kept a keen eye on Super Aguri's performance each race weekend, hoping for another 'miracle pass.' I saw in Super Aguri what many fans saw years before in Minardi – a team that reminded us all the reasons we go racing and watch racing. Simon Vigar, a self professed Minardi fanatic, captures the history of one of the most loved underdog teams in Formula One in 'Forza Minardi! The Inside Story of the Little Team That Took on the Giants of F1.' Vigar provides a year-by-year account of the team's (few) successes and (many) failures. From the start when Gian Carlo Minardi started the journey to the final years of the ever controversial but entertaining Paul Stoddart ownership. The history of Minardi in many ways encompasses the history of Formula One growing from the last vestiges of a sport into a political quagmire of big business. Sir Stirling Moss said on the demise of Minardi, "It isn't a sport anymore, it's now just big business. Motorsport isn't there, motor business is. The fact that Minardi lasted so long is a miracle onto itself. Vigar provides us a fascinating inside look to this transformation, and how so many forces for so long wanted to see Minardi disappear from the grid. While at the same time, Stoddart was able to use those same forces to his advantage in keeping Minardi alive well beyond any sane expectations. The early chapters are a bit short, especially compared to the latter years. This could be due to the difficulty of digging up history the farther back you go in time or the waning years having a lot more to write about thanks to Stoddard. Or, perhaps a bit of both. So, while the early chapters at times left me wanting for more, the latter chapters left me fully satisfied. The inside dealings of Formula One are recalled in fascinating detail during Stoddard's time and will leave any fan, casual or diehard, shaking their heads at a sport that would make Wall Street tycoons wither. It's not just the backroom politics that Vigar writes about. He recalls the stories of the drivers, crew, cars, testing, development, racing, the perils of being the "other" team in a Ferrari mad country, and of course the fans, who made Minardi Formula One's favorite second team, forming numerous fan clubs. The team became a virtual Who's Who of Formula 1 drivers. Pierluigi Martini, Andrea de Cesaris, Alessandro Nannini, Roberto Moreno, Christian Fittipaldi, Alex Zanardi, Fabrizio Barbazza, Michele Alboreto, Pedro Lamy, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli, Fernando Alonso, Mark Weber, Anthony Davidson, Justin Wilson, Jos Verstappen, Christijan Albers, and Robert Doornbos all either cut their teeth at Minardi or wrapped up a career. Then, there are the drivers who quite frankly should not have been let near a Formula Ford never mind a Formula 1 machine ... Minardi holds the record for most Grands Prix contested without a pole at 340 and is second to Arrows (who contested 382) without a victory. Sometimes, it truly is about the journey and not the destination. Minardi showed us the journey can still be fun, and Vigar allows us to relive it once again with 'Forza Minardi!
Review from Motor Sport, June 2008
The tale of a Formula 1 team that took 52 races to finish in the points and spent 21 years struggling at the back of the grid sounds as though it could be a depressing read. Indeed, as Vigar says in the first few pages, "Some ask' what went wrong?' The real question is 'what went right?"' A bleak start if ever there was one.
However, this year-by-year account of the Italian team is both interesting and endearing. Vigar, a self-confessed die-hard Minardi fan, charts the team's 21-year history from Formula 2 to its first GP in 1985, its first point in '88, the problems with Flavio Briatore before he took over and its predictable downfall.
This is an extremely well-researched read and if you're wondering why someone would spend so much time on such a book, just have a think about how many people have written literary works on the Scottish rugby team.
Well written and easy on the eye, this first book on the team is a must for Minardi's hardcore fan base. And for others? Well, you might be pleasantly surprised. How many other teams can say that they survived while 24 others failed during their stint in Formula 1?
The story of Glan Carlo Minardi and his F1 team is certainly charming, even if they weren't loved by everyone in the paddock ...
Review from Octane, July 2008
Formula One's least successful team - 21 years without a podium finish - gets its own tribute in this affectionate history that proves the truism of every dog having its day. Extensive quotes from the key personnel and drivers involved tell the heart-warming story of a team that raced for the love of it, rather than to sell cars.
Review by Jamie O'Leary for Autosport, 2008
Minardi were universally loved during their 20-year stint in F1 and now Simon Vigar has attempted to gather up the best bits in his new title, 'Forza Minardi!'
Featuring interviews with Bernie Ecclestone, Fernando Alonso and the man himself Giancarlo Minardi, the book is well-researched and insightful - did you know for instance that Ayrton Senna, frustrated with the inter-team politics at McLaren, was weighing up a move to Minardi during the later stages of the 1989 season?
If there is one criticism - and there is one - it's that half the book (65 out of 135 pages) is dedicated to the five years under Paul Stoddart's stewardship, leaving only the same amount of space to cover the 1985-2000 period, including Pierluigi Martini's famous lap in front at Estoril in '89.
If you're one of those closet Minardi-istas, then it is recommended.
Startline magazine, June 2008
After 20 years of glorious 'failure', the best-loved team in Formula One is consigned to the history books, and it deserves one of its own. Minardi had a successful time in Formula Two until the tiny Italian outfit was ready to hit the big time in 1985. It somehow survived in R's shark-infested waters as bigger teams (Lotus, Arrows, Tyrrell) were dragged under. They have a truly international fan-base and are the 'second team' of most F1 devotees. Minardi is held in such affection as everyone loves the plucky underdog. Despite a petition of 15,000 names the Minardi name has vanished from the F1 grid and true motorheads miss it. This is the one and only inside account, with exclusive, comprehensive interviews with bosses, drivers and engineers. 140 unique photos complete this revolutionary tale.
"... a beautifully illustrated book ..." – The Marshal