Initially part of the boom of Italian teams entering Formula 1 in the 1980s and early 1990s, Minardi somehow managed to achieve far greater longevity than its compatriots ever managed.
Eventually morphing into a synonym for underdog, the Minardi name was frequently accompanied by the words "plucky" and "minnow" as it continued to tread water amid a period in which F1 teams' budgets sky-rocketed thanks to the greater involvement of manufacturer teams. The team's 20-year stay in the top tier of racing came to an end after its sale to Red Bull to form the Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) team but, after a series of financial withdrawals, Minardi's tenure was perilously close to the end following the 2000 season.
At the turn of the millennium, Minardi was in surprisingly rude health. Its 1999 season had been a surprising one and, although the M01 chassis was usually relegated to battling the Arrows cars at the back of the field, the team had secured its first point since 1995 courtesy of Marc Gene's famous sixth place at the bizarre European Grand Prix. Such prizes were scarce in Minardi's lifetime, and the team managed just 38 points in its 20 years in F1.