Honda website
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FEBRUARY 16, 2001

Minardi relieved to be on the grid

GIANCARLO MINARDI is looking forward to the new season now that stability has returned to the team -- and said securing the team's future has been the hardest job he has had.

The Italian, whose team made its Formula One debut 16 years ago, said that his last few months in control of the team were the most difficult period of his life before Paul Stoddart took control.

"A lot of people did their best to kill off the team," said Minardi. "I knocked on a lot of doors but found them closed, and the rumors circulating over my accord with [Paul] Stoddart did more harm than good."

Minardi admitted that although he is no longer at the helm of the Faenza-based team, he still has a strong heart for the team he created and can see success looming on the horizon.

"I continue to feel the team as my own, even though it no longer belongs to me," said Minardi. "Gabriele Rumi and I really wanted to save it, and we have managed to do so.

"That's the most important thing - we are still alive and kicking and about to tackle a new Formula One season."

Meanwhile, a team spokesperson admitted that the driver decision proposed for Friday had not been made. "We are still working on a shortlist, and we are hopeful for next week," the spokesperson said.

The team rubbished stories that the car will carry the colors of Collingwood Australian Rules team, the Magpies. "There will not be a magpie on the car," a spokesperson said.

"There will be black and white on it, but that is nothing to do with the Australian Football team."