Following the acquisition of Minardi, Paul Stoddart, inspired by the McLaren MP4/98T two-seater, decided to build his own two-seated F1 car. Due to Stoddart’s previous connections with Tyrrell, some former employees of the team worked on the car, and the two-seated model was largely based on Tyrrell 026. The car was designed and manufactured in-house by European Formula Racing. It featured carbon fibre composite chassis with aluminium honeycomb sandwich and was powered by Cosworth JD 3.0 V10 engine, badged as European, capable of 700 bhp. As a two-seater, the F1X2 had around 200 mm longer wheelbase (3370 mm) ad length (4870 mm) comparing to single-seated F1 cars. Built according to all FIA safety specifications, the F1X2 had all necessary protecting features including roll bar and impact resistance elements affecting safety. The car was completed in 2000, and 8 chassis were produced. Actually, the F1X2 was a real Formula 1 car just a few seconds per lap slower than single-seated bolides.
The F1X2 was used extensively in various Minardi promotional and commercial events. In 2000s Paul Stoddart ran annual “Thunder” events which featured F1X2 race among other promotional features. In 2001-2002 “Thunder” was hosted by Donington Park. In 2003 it was held at Rockingham circuit in UK on August 30-31, and was called “Thunder at the Rock”. The show was sponsored by Dutch based computer accessories company Trust International, the general sponsor of Minardi F1 team, so the official title of the event was “Trust Presents Thunder at the Rock”. The main event, ten lap race featured eight F1X2 Minardi cars, was won by Minardi works driver Jos Verstappen , with singer Jay Kay as his passenger. Test driver Gianmaria Bruni, who’s passenger was Justin Hawkins, lead singer of rock band The Darkness, and Patrick Friesacher, who took along footballer Teddy Sheringham, were second and third. Other entries included Paul Stoddart himself, team’s driver Nicolas Kiesa, Indy Racing League driver Bryan Herta, as well as F3000 pilots Giorgio Pantano and David Saelens.
Minardi F1X2 cars were also present at various shows and events including 2001 Goodwood Festival of Speed, and 2004 Bologna Motorshow. In 2004, the F1X2 cars took part in the Altech South African F1X2 Charity Grand Prix race at Kyalami, and a year later a similar race was held on the occasion of the inaugural round of the GP Masters series. Following the fall of Minardi after the 2005 season, the F1X2 program continues. In 2007, due to Stoddart’s involvement in the ChampCar series through the Minardi Team USA, F1X2 participated in an extensive North American program for the first time. For instance, in 2007 Minardi two-seaters runs supported Champ Car round at Mont Tremlant in Quebec. Ex-Formula One drivers Zsolt Baumgartner and Patrick Friesacher with passenger on board were clocking laps at an average of 1min 20sec – just 3 seconds off the fastest race lap clocked by Sebastien Bourdais at 1:17.327 in the ChampCar trace at Mont Tremblant.
Later, in 2013 and 2014 “Formula One 2-Seater Experience” was available at select tracks during the Formula One racing season. When Formula 1’s ownership went to Liberty Media in 2017, F1X2 runs were included in “F1 Experience” entertainment programme, and were available during several F1 rounds in 2017 – 2019.
|2003||Thunder at the Rock|