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JULY 7, 2003

Political battles at Magny Cours

The Formula 1 team owners were in discussion again at the weekend in Magny Cours over the so-called Formula 1 "fighting fund". Paul Stoddart refuses to be beaten and while some of the other team bosses say that Stoddart has no right to any money because the deal was conditional on the rules remaining the same. Stoddart has turned that argument around and says that if this is the case he will not support the changes which the big teams want, which include the continued use of traction-control in 2003 and the new rear bodywork in 2004.

Stoddart circulated a letter before the French GP saying that he will be running his cars without any electronic driver aids at the British Grand Prix. This would open the way for Minardi to protest all the other cars and could end up with Minardi being declared the winners of the event. Team bosses say that Stoddart has no right to do this because traction-control is allowed for the rest of the year. Unfortunately this argument breaks down if one accepts that the deal over the "fighting fund" is null and void. There was a lengthy meeting on Sunday morning at Magny Cours during which Stoddart pointed this out to the other team owners.

It is anticipated that a deal of some form or another will now be struck with a compromise expected in the days ahead. Leaving the issue open still further will serve no purpose at all because the FIA says that it will uphold the rules as they stand and those rules do not allow for traction-control from the British GP onwards.

Our sources say that the meeting in Magny Cours was a lively affair with several team bosses accusing Stoddart of trying to blackmail them. Stoddart says that he is simply fighting for what he was promised and says he has very little choice.

We anticipate more meetings this week