In a heartfelt tribute to Sporting Director, John Walton, who died late Friday night following a serious heart attack earlier in the week, the cars of the Wilux Minardi Cosworth team competed in today's British Grand Prix devoid of any corporate...
In a heartfelt tribute to Sporting Director, John Walton, who died late Friday night following a serious heart attack earlier in the week, the cars of the Wilux Minardi Cosworth team competed in today's British Grand Prix devoid of any corporate identification.
Prior to the start of the race, Zsolt Baumgartner and Gianmaria Bruni were both determined to reach the chequered flag as a fitting tribute to the man who regularly directed the team's race strategy from the pit wall. Despite a strong start to the Grand Prix, which saw the drivers setting very similar lap times in their first two stints, both men encountered problems as the event progressed.
Baumgartner retired his car on lap 30 of the race with an engine problem, while Bruni was assessed a drive-through penalty just prior to the second of his three scheduled pit stops for an alleged infringement of the blue-flag regulation. During that pit stop, a misunderstanding saw Bruni attempt to leave the Minardi pit before the refuelling nozzle had been fully disengaged from the car, several members of the crew sustaining minor injuries as a result.
After that, Bruni drove tenaciously to claim 16th place at the chequered flag. The team wishes to express its heartfelt thanks to an overwhelming majority of its commercial and technical partners for their agreement in running the Minardi entries without livery today as a mark of respect for John.
"It was a difficult race today with a number of problems, but I'm pleased that I was able to take the flag as a tribute to John. I was struggling with the handling of the car for quite a bit of the race, and was then given a drive-through penalty for a blue-flag infringement."
"I also had a problem with my second pit stop, when a misunderstanding meant that I left the box too soon. Fortunately, none of the crew was seriously injured, and after that, I was just determined to get to the end of the race. It has been a tough weekend, and I hope we have much a better time at Hockenheim."
"I'm upset that I wasn't able to finish the race and take the chequered flag today. I had promised myself that I would do it, both for John and for me. I felt my performance was okay today - when you compare my lap times with Gimmi's, there was very little between us, and I also managed to overtake him after the first pit stop."
"There was some close, but very fair racing between us before my car suffered an engine problem. Everybody worked really hard this weekend in difficult circumstances, and I want to thank the team for that. I just hope we have much better luck at the next race."
Paul Stoddart, Team Principal, Wilux Minardi Cosworth:
"I'm deeply touched by the level of support Minardi has received this weekend. It really does show that Formula One is far more of a family than people realise, but most importantly, it shows just how popular a figure John Walton was in the F1 community."
"As for today's race, Minardi got one car to the chequered flag, thus bringing to a conclusion what has been an enormously difficult weekend. I'm sure most people will understand that we have had a great deal on our minds, and I'm truly proud of the effort the whole team has put in."
Chassis: PS04B/02 (No.20)
Best lap: 1 min 24.296 secs
Chassis: PS04B/01 (No.21)
Best lap: 1 min 24.317 secs