The Minardi problem...

IT seems that the issue of whether Minardi will get the Prost Grand Prix TV money has taken a new twist after the FIA requested that Formula One Management release the money set aside for Prost Grand Prix. This seems to have come about because none of the other F1 teams could come up with a suitable argument why the money should not go to Minardi and the FIA is charged (in the Concorde Agreement) with ensuring that the agreement is respected.

According to sources close to the action FOM has responded by saying that Stoddart was loaned $5m before the start of the year and as TV money is paid on a quarterly basis he has therefore already been paid for the first half of the year.

The financial schedules of the Concorde Agreement are slightly more secret than the codes that allow the US President to launch a nuclear attack. These are covered by Schedule 10 of the Concorde Agreement. We have not been able to read them but we understand that TV income is divided into two: part of the money is paid out based on a team's appearance at races and the other part on the position in which the team finished the previous season. The money is paid quarterly, so it safe to assume that payments are due on March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31.

The problem is that we do not know how much money could be due to Minardi. The figure of $12m has been bandied about but there are no guarantees that this is correct. Assuming it is close to the right figure it would mean a payment to Minardi of $3m a quarter. Thus if the team has been given a pre-season loan of $5m there would be around $1m to pay the end of June and then $3m at the end of September and $3m at the end of the year. Whether this is enough to enable Minardi to keep going is not at the moment clear.

Paul Stoddart says he knows nothing of the rumored settlement and is still waiting to hear from FOM.

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