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F1 Throwback: When Minardi Decided to Play Musical Chairs With Fernando Alonso and Teammate

F1 Throwback: When Minardi Decided to Play Musical Chairs With Fernando Alonso and Teammate

Fernando Alonso

It was 29 July 2001 when over a hundred thousand people were gathered to witness the German Grand Prix at the famous Hockenheimring. The race is remembered for Ralf Schumacher’s victory and the terrible race start that Michael Schumacher got and later slowed which resulted in an accident with Luciano Burti that left the latter airborne and he landed on Jos Verstappen’s car. One thing that is not remembered by many is how Fernando Alonso got his first points in Formula One on his birthday. Continuing their rough patch, the Minardi-European team was planning some serious upgrades to their cars. The team was only able to test its new titanium gearbox in the practice sessions. The Minardi duo of Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques had a dreadful qualifying session. The two of them qualified in 21st and 22nd position respectively.

How did Race Day pan out for Fernando Alonso

It was Race Day in Germany and as the grid was being prepared for the formation lap, both the Minardis were in pit lane due to technical complications.

Twenty minutes before the race Fernando Alonso’s car was on fire and he was shifted to a spare car. Minutes before the start his teammate Tarso Marques’ car also broke down. This time he was given Fernando Alonso’s repaired car as the team had only one spare car. Alonso, already driving the spare car had something big coming his way and that was an oil leak. Thanks to the red flag Fernando was again shifted and this time it was his teammate’s car. At this point, both the Minardi drivers were driving each other’s cars.

Driving a car that was calibrated for his teammate was tough and uncomfortable for Fernando Alonso. It was a chaotic race that saw twelve retirements. Fernando Alonso was lucky to see the chequered flag. He came tenth in the race even after encountering numerous obstacles. That’s how he got his first point in Formula One and the only point in 2001 on his birthday. He would have never imagined getting his first points in this manner.

Post-race Fernando said “It has been a really tough afternoon because, at the second start, I was in Tarso’s car, which was logically set up for him and totally different from mine. I, therefore, didn’t feel at all comfortable. Frankly, it was more than I could ever have expected to take the chequered flag today. Tenth is my best result so far in Formula One and today is my birthday, so what more can I ask for?”.

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