Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson joined Minardi at the start of the 2003 season. His debut could have been a year earlier but Wilson had one significant problem which would at times hamper his career: He was very tall. Starting out in karts, Wilson spent some years in Formula Vauxhall and later won the Formula Palmer Audi championship, the series founded by his manager, Justin Palmer. Wilson entered Formula 3000 in 1999 and took the title two years later, winning three races. When Minardi looked for a temporary replacement for Malaysian driver Alex Yoong, Wilson was one of the front runners but he simply did not fit into the car. Another issue was to come up with $2 million. Lacking corporate sponsors, Wilson's manager had a brilliant idea: Wilson set up a company, selling shares in himself and promised investors to give them a share of his future earnings. The deal worked and Wilson got the seat for the 2003 season.

The 2003 car had been made slightly bigger to fit Wilson's 6'3" frame. This still didn't make it a comfortable fit and images of an exhausted Wilson peeling himself out of the cockpit of the PS03 under cramps were shown around the world. While veteran Verstappen had the upper hand in qualifying, at least initially, Wilson proved to be amazing at the start of the race, gaining many positions. This spectacular performance got him noticed and he was snapped up by Jaguar after 11 races. While he scored a point for the green team, he had to vacate his seat the following season, as Jaguar needed sponsor dollars which they found in Austrian driver Christian Klien and Red Bull. Wilson left F1 and moved to the Champcar series where he took a string of victories and finished the season in second position twice.

Wilson stayed in the series when Champcar and Indycar merged, initially with Newman Haas, later with Dale Coyne. In 2009 Wilson became the first driver to win a race for Dale Coyne, which in its long history had been the team of choice for many former Minardi drivers. At the start of the 2015 season, Wilson switched to the Andretti team and managed a second spot at the Honday Indy 200. In the penultimate race of the season at Pocono, Wilson's helmet was struck by flying debris from a crash well ahead of him and he sustained severe head injuries. Wilson died a day later on August 24, leaving his wife and two daughters behind.