Minardi to Test Russian Driver Zlobin

Russia will move closer to having a Formula One driver for the first time when Sergei Zlobin tests for Minardi in Italy on Tuesday.

Minardi to Test Russian Driver Zlobin

Russia will move closer to having a Formula One driver for the first time when Sergei Zlobin tests for Minardi in Italy on Tuesday.

Team owner Paul Stoddart said at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday that the test at Ferrari's Fiorano track was part of a sponsorship deal agreed with Russian gas giant Gazprom.

If all goes well, then Zlobin could ultimately follow the same route into the sport as Malaysian Alex Yoong, who became his country's first Grand Prix driver with Minardi last September.

Russia has never had a Formula One racer but Minardi hope that the driver, currently competing in European F3000, shows promise.

"I suspect we'll be running him quite a bit next year," said Stoddart. "We will definitely be running him again in the November-December period and then if he's good enough we'll try to work with him.

"I'm quite prepared to put a lot of effort into him. If Gian Carlo (Minardi) sees a bit of potential, we will do everything to give that kid every chance of making it all the way, if we can do it," he said.

"Whether he is going to be just doing secondary testing or proper testing depends on where his ability is and what we have to do to lift him up to that."

Future Assured

Part of the Gazprom partnership, announced last month, is for Minardi to try to bring a Russian into the sport. Stoddart said the deal, coupled with the continuing support of Malaysian backers, had assured Minardi's continuing presence in Formula One at a time when others were in danger of folding.

"We are going to be here next year no matter what happens now," he said. "I certainly couldn't have said that two months ago."

Minardi warned earlier in the season, when they were fighting to secure television money originally destined for the failed Prost team, that they might not be able to see out the Championship. Stoddart said only last month that he still could not guarantee the team's presence next year.

But speaking after a race where rivals Arrows were conspicuously absent for the third time in four races as they try to negotiate their survival, Stoddart depicted a far brighter future.

"It's funny what a difference a couple of months can make," he said. "Now Gazprom, a few other deals and suddenly we are back on our feet again. I see the Gazprom sponsorship as representing our engine budget for next year," he said of a deal announced last month with the Russian gas company.

Minardi currently have free engines in a one-year deal with the secretive Asiatech company but have said they are interested in switching to Ford-owned Cosworth, who supplied Arrows this season. The Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur provides the title sponsorship and Stoddart said the backing was set to continue despite Yoong stepping down as a driver at the end of the season.

"I'm off to Malaysia next Saturday, I've got a fantastic relationship with the Malaysians, they are friends as well as partners and sponsors and that's not going to diminish one bit," he said.

shares
comments
Feature: Ferrari Complete Cycle of Excellence

Previous article

Feature: Ferrari Complete Cycle of Excellence

Next article

No room for Ferrari team orders

No room for Ferrari team orders
Load comments
Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material Plus

Verstappen exclusive: How Red Bull’s ace has become F1 champion material

As Red Bull and Honda go all-out for victory in the Japanese engine manufacturer’s last season of its latest Formula 1 dalliance, Max Verstappen finds himself thrust into a compelling title fight with Lewis Hamilton. He told OLEG KARPOV about his evolution into a world championship contender and why Red Bull's no compromise ethos suits him down to the ground

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull Plus

How Mercedes went from Austin practice domination to "very tight at the front" with Red Bull

Mercedes has been on a roll of late in the ultra-tight fight to win the 2021 Formula 1 world championship. It started off well in practice at Austin for this weekend’s US Grand Prix, but Red Bull got closer as Friday unfolded and even seemed to find an edge in one critical area of what seems set to be another close contest

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen Plus

The six critical factors that could hand F1 2021 glory to Hamilton or Verstappen

The 2021 Formula 1 title battle is finely poised with six races remaining, as just six points separate championship leader Max Verstappen from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton. In such a closely-fought season, the outcome could hinge on several small factors playing the way of Red Bull or Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed? Plus

Can Whitmarsh appointment help Aston succeed where its F1 rivals failed?

Aston Martin owner Lawrence Stroll is determined to make the group a billion-dollar business. MARK GALLAGHER analyses his latest play – bringing former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh into the fold

Formula 1
Oct 22, 2021
Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner Plus

Remembering Switzerland’s first F1 winner

Stepping up to F1 in 1962, Jo Siffert shone with Rob Walker Racing Team and BRM before his career was abruptly ended in a fatal crash at Brands Hatch in 1971. On the 50th anniversary of his death, Autosport recalls the career of an F1 and sportscar ace gone before his time

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Formula 1
Oct 21, 2021
The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

Formula 1
Oct 20, 2021
The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021