JUNE 15, 2002

The Minardi question

PAUL STODDART has spent a lot of money on legal opinions this year. Having hired a string of top judicial brains to deal with the Phoenix case, Stoddart in recent weeks has been asking these same legal eagles for their opinion about his situation with regard to the Concorde Agreement. This document is, of course, confidential so we cannot know what it is that is being disputed but as far as we can understand it is a simple question of who were top 10 teams of last year. If Prost is not there then it might have been one of the top 10 teams last year but it no longer is so, of the existing teams, Minardi was in the top 10. The problem is that some of the other teams do not agree. Some of them do not agree to the extent to which they are willing to allow Stoddart to put Minardi out of business. Some of them have come up with the strange idea that if there are not 10 teams they can split the extra money between themselves.

Stoddart can challenge them in the International Chamber of Commerce in Lausanne but this is not the work of a moment because cases take a minimum of a couple of months to be heard. And Stoddart does not have the luxury of time.

Is there a solution to this problem? The lawyers have not been able to find one. And there is no time for the matter to be now handed on to judges. One has to say that even if there is some doubt about the money in the Concorde Agreement it would be incredibly blinkered - one might even say stupid - if the rival teams each got a million dollars which they would then waste on testing and Minardi was allowed to go to the wall.

Hopefully someone will have the foresight to tell the teams that it is in the best interests of the sport that as many teams as possible survive.