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
The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers Plus

The tough balancing act facing Schumacher’s Netflix film producers

Michael Schumacher is the latest sporting superstar to get the ‘Netflix treatment’, with a special documentary film airing on the US streaming giant’s platform this month. DAMIEN SMITH has the inside track on how the filmmakers gained access to tell the human story behind one of Formula 1’s most publicity-shy champions - while the man himself, for obvious reasons, is in absentia… 

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery Plus

The times that suggest Verstappen should be confident of F1 Russian GP recovery

For the second race in a row, Mercedes has ended the first day of track action on top. It’s in a commanding position at the Russian Grand Prix once again – this time largely thanks to Max Verstappen’s upcoming engine-change grid penalty. But there’s plenty to suggest all hope is not lost for the championship leader at Sochi

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2021
The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021