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MAY 13, 2001

Stoddart to take Brunner to court

MINARDI team-boss Paul Stoddart has said that the departure of technical director Gustav Brunner will not affect his team this year and vowed to take him to court over his decision to quit the team.

Brunner accepted a contract with Toyota, who will join Formula One next year, but Stoddart claimed that the Austrian designer was still under contract with Minardi.

"He had a irrevocable contract that didn't expire until 31st of January 2002," said Stoddart. "In addition to that there was a 12 month notice period in his contract and he hasn't respected anything in his contract. Nor has the company that has employed him, and frankly we will let the courts decide how it is going to end up. In court I will be saying a lot and it is probably better that it is kept until then, I can't wait to get to court.

Stoddart admitted, however, that Brunner's departure could hurt the team more in financial than technical terms and said that the immediate future will remain unaffected.

"It is not a short-term blow but middle to long term maybe," he said. "From a pure technical point of view the fact is that next year's car is already designed. Because we are doing something else this year so we had to bring the car design forward, so there is no short term impact from a technical point of view."

"Gabriele Tradozi has been promoted into the position. He has been there and done it before, he was on the side of our technical department anyway which Gustav wasn't. He was a thinker rather than a doer, and so the day-to-day running of the technical department hasn't been affected one little bit."

"What long term damage or even short to medium damage remains to be seen," he added. "What sponsors won't come that were going to come I don't know. We may not feel the impact from a purely day to day aspect until 2004, in which case (he would have been) out of contract and probably retired anyway. It is not what he did it is the way he did it."

Stoddart is expected to seek a new ruling on the poaching of technical engineers at the next meeting of team bosses, similar to the proposals which were put in place for drivers in 1991.