Jos Verstappen

With a few exceptions, Minardi's drivers drove for the team at the start of their careers. Jos Verstappen was one of the exceptions, joining the Faenza-based squad when he was 31 years old and had already raced in Formula 1 for the better part of 7 seasons. After a very brief stint in minor racing series and winning the 1993 German Formula 3 championships, Verstappen enjoyed a spectacular Formula 1 test session with the Footwork Arrows team, which yielded a test contract at Benetton for the 1994 season. Unexpectedly, he was thrown in at the deep end when he had to line up alongside Michael Schumacher for the opening race, after regular driver JJ Lehto injured himself in pre-season testing.

Lehto returned after two events but was sidelined after only scoring 1 point in four races. Verstappen finished third twice in 1994 but his performance was still not good enough for an impatient team, which chose Johnny Herbert to run in the final two races of the season. After some seasons at the back of the grid with Simtek, Footwork, Tyrell and Stewart, things looked up for Jos Verstappen when he became the development driver for the Honda team, which had set its sights on a grand entry into Formula 1 for the 2000 season. After the death of its main designer, Honda decided to shelve plans for a fully fledged F1 team, however, and became an engine supplier instead.

Verstappen moved to Arrows in 2000 and enjoyed a somewhat unexpected renaissance, driving some very competitive races and scoring regular points. His gutsy driving style and spectacular overtaking manoeuvres earned him an enormous fan community, especially in the Netherlands. Being left out of a drive in 2002, rumours grew that Vertappen would join Minardi. He eventually signed for the 2003 season and brought a large pack of Dutch backers. The season was a tough one for Verstappen, as in spite of a stronger Cosworth engine, the Minardi car had barely changed compared to the previous year. However, Verstappen had a throw at being the largest Minardi legend ever in the chaotic Brazilian GP, when torrential downpour put him in a position to win the race. Unfortunately, he spun off and another backmarker, Giancarlo Fisichella, won the race for Jordan.

There was one more happy moment in the season when Verstappen, helped by rain, put his car on provisional pole at the French GP (qualifying was organised in a two stint session at that time, with all drivers getting a lap each). As the season progressed, Verstappen grew more and more angry at his weak car and lashed out at the team in interviews. He left Minardi at the end of the season. Even though there was talk of him joining Jordan, the departure from Minardi marked the end of Verstappen's F1 career. He later raced in A1GP, winning one event, and competed at some Le Mans Series events. Most recently he returned to Faenza to support his son Max, who became Formula 1's youngest ever driver in his 2015 debut with Toro Rosso.