News and views on motorsports

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Minardi Update

Whilst Minardi made it to qualifying for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, it seems that it was only possible after an interim injuntcion was granted by the Australian courts. This application for this injunction was made at the courts in the absence of the FIA and the race stewards. This prompted Paul Stoddart to drop his legal threats against the race organizers. Paul Stoddart then also dropped the injunction and fixed his cars to conform to regulations. Which is to me rather crazy. Why couldn't he have done it prior to the race? So now it seems his cars conform to the 2005 aerodynamic regulations in addition to the safety regulations.

Nevertheless, this has incurred the wrath of the establishment. In the FIA's view: "If Australian laws and procedures do indeed allow a judge to act in this way, it will be for the World Motorsport Council to decide if a World Championship motorsport event of any kind can ever again be held in Australia."

Bernie Ecclestone was moved to add: "Paul’s been a bit of a nuisance since day one, but we have protected him. Regretfully, there is now no place in Formula 1 for someone like him. If you can’t sustain running a team then you should get out. That’s precisely what dear old Eddie Jordan did, and that’s what Paul should be doing. This is an expensive game to be sitting in on and if you can’t afford the ante you shouldn’t take part in the school." Err yeah Bernie. Eddie Jordan can't do anything wrong can he? He's your boy after all and he's about to be your deputy.

Yikes! Its one thing to threaten the Minardi team. Its quite another thing to decide to permanently exclude Australia from FIA sanctioned events. Ironically, this is the very thing that Paul Stoddart wanted to avoid.

But if I think about it, sportsmanship or not, we have seen other teams fall by the wayside due to a lack of funding to continue on in the sport. Teams such as Leyton House, Lotus, Brabham (Bernie's own) and Arrows all hit funding problems and were forced out of the sport. Paul Stoddart wants to keep competing but without the resources to produce a legal car. Why should he be given special consideration when other teams were never so lucky? In the case of Lotus and Brabham, far more illustrious and historic teams at that.

As I said, its a difficult issue. On the other hand, Paul Stoddart, like many of the other team bosses, stresses that: "we need better governance and stable regulations." True, we need that. In the meantime, your cars must be legal, Paul. Harsh. But c'est la vie.

Its a mess and it will get messier.

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