Despite the fact that they finished bottom of the Constructor's standings last year, Minardi has set their sights on beating F1 newcomers Toyota this season as well as looking to fight with the tail end of the mid-field. Team Principal Paul...
Despite the fact that they finished bottom of the Constructor's standings last year, Minardi has set their sights on beating F1 newcomers Toyota this season as well as looking to fight with the tail end of the mid-field. Team Principal Paul Stoddart is under no illusions of challenging the likes of Ferrari or McLaren but believes his team is much improved and can take on several others.
"I think we might have a bit of a run with Toyota for a while," he said. "Jaguar haven't done too good so far, also BAR; and I think we can get the second Arrows fairly comfortably. Those are the teams that are in our sights. We've got our sights set on ninth in the constructors' (championship). I think we need a few points to do that. We'll be more than pleased to beat one or two teams this year, particularly those that might have better budgets than us."
Stoddart bought Minardi less than two months before the first race of 2001 and it was a struggle to reach the grid at Albert Park, with barely any time to scramble two cars together and even less time for testing. But they managed it and Stoddart was ecstatic when Fernando Alonso bought his car home 12th -- a feat that may not have impressed another team if they had finished there, but for Minardi it was a triumph after many thought they would not even get to the race at all. The Australian aviation baron believes that drivers Alex Yoong and Mark Webber will benefit from better preparation this year.
"Whereas when we arrived this time last year, the cars hadn't turned a wheel, other than one straight-line shake-down on one car. So we're in a lot better shape," Stoddart said. "What a difference a year makes. We've been able to get a couple of thousand kilometres of testing under our belt."
He hopes that his drivers will be able to manage a top ten qualifying place and thinks that testing times are irrelevant compared to that all important first qualifying session: "What we don't know yet is what our competitors have done and that is why it gets so interesting on Saturday. It really is hard to tell until that first qualifying session. I take no notice of testing."