It’s with a heavy heart that I write about the Minardi’s 2003 season livery, Justin Wilson’s first car in his only season in Formula 1.
Minardi’s decline (not that there were many good times) was reaching its trough as it entered the 2003 season. It was Paul Stoddart’s third year in charge and after the success story that was bringing fellow Australian Mark Webber into the Formula 1 world, he decided to introduce another fresh face in Justin Wilson, to drive alongside experienced campaigner Jos Verstappen.
In terms of results, Minardi faired just as poorly as the season before, this time minus a freak 5th place result. They finished the season rock bottom with 0 points, below next best Jordan, which scored 13 points, thanks mainly to the chaos that was Interlagos. The highlight of Minardi’s season would have been Verstappen’s provision pole during Friday qualifying on a drying track at Magny-Cours. The success was short lived and the car overall was poor, but it stuck to the Minardi roots, which was a mainly black livery.
The livery went through a couple of phases. It started off not looking too dissimilar to the 2002 car, mainly black with European Aviation on the sidepods, and a pleasing area of white on the side of the nosecone featuring the Trust logo, which was bordered by red on one side. There was also a slice of red on the bottom rear side of the sidepod, which was bordered by white on one side, a reversed colour scheme to the other red and white area. If that was all, it would have been a basic but pleasing design. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
Black, red and white go together just fine. Adding green makes it a little trickier. Sponsorship from Superfund brought a large portion of green to the barge boards, the front of the sidepods and beside the airbox. It still could have looked nice, if the placement was thought out a little better. However, it got worse. Gazprom logos added another colour, light blue, to the engine cover and front wings. By this stage, the amount of different colours, colours which didn’t match at all, made the livery rather unsightly.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the livery’s final form. Later in the season, Trust bumped up its sponsorship, and as a result, the sidepods were coloured almost entirely in white, with a small black section bordered by red on the bottom rear, similar to the previous design. It changed the livery dramatically. The Superfund green matched much better with the mainly white car, especially when directly on the white. The best news was that Gazprom was no longer on the car; their spots on the car replaced by Muermans. By this point of the season, Justin Wilson was just about off to Jaguar, with his replacement Nicolas Kiesa waiting in the wings.
Overall, it was a car that, by mid-season, was actually quite attractive. With white and black now sharing responsibilities as main colours, and light blue gone, the black, red and green didn’t seem to clash so poorly. Unfortunately for Minardi, results and liveries were still heading downhill.
RIP Justin Wilson. You will be missed, but not forgotten.