Last time out in Russia, there was only a single overtaking move all race, with the faster 2017 cars being blamed for the lack of action.
But Minardi, a former F1 team owner, told Italy’s Autosprint: “I analyse a grand prix with the times that the drivers are posting, and what was noticeable was how close the grand prix (at Sochi) was.
“There were the three protagonists, Bottas, Vettel and Raikkonen, but also Verstappen who improved lap after lap. It was a beautiful fight,” he insisted.
Minardi said the missing protagonist in Russia was Lewis Hamilton, who was outperformed all weekend by his new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
“I think first of all Hamilton underestimated Bottas,” he said. “Hamilton is a strong driver but he easily becomes demoralised.”
As for Ferrari’s strong start to the 2017 season, Minardi said he is happy the Maranello team pushed ahead with its own plan to improve.
“I argued for years that we do not need to go looking for people abroad,” he said. “Now the team must not lift its head but continue to work and believe in creating a new winning cycle after the Schumi-Todt era.”
But while Minardi was full of praise for Sebastian Vettel, he was critical of the German’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
“I don’t understand those fast laps Kimi did late in the race,” said the Italian, referring to Sochi. “What was he doing earlier? Even in Bahrain he complained of the tyres and then did his fast lap with two races to go.
“For me, Kimi remains a mystery and it’s unfortunate because if he went as fast as he should, the constructors’ title would be within reach for Ferrari.”