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Minardi risk exclusion from Australian GP
Alan Baldwin | February 14, 2005 20:03 IST
Tailenders Minardi are on a collision course with Formula One's governing body over their plans to start the season in Australia with last year's car.
Team owner Paul Stoddart, who comes from Melbourne and can count on strong local support at the March 6 race, warned on Monday that he would take legal action against the International Automobile Federation (FIA) if his unmodified cars were to be excluded.
FIA president Max Mosley has said that Minardi will not be allowed to run 2004-specification cars unless all the other teams agreed.
"If there was no prior agreement and he presented to us the 2004 car, that would be illegal under the current regulations. So the scrutineers would not put a sticker on it and it would never go out of the pit lane," said Mosley.
Stoddart said his cars would meet the safety requirements but with last year's aerodynamic package and single race engine rather than one designed to last for two grands prix under the new regulations.
The Australian, who has questioned the legality of the 2005 rules, said Minardi expected to race and hoped 'sanity will prevail'.
"But you never know in Formula One," he told Melbourne's Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) radio. "We're ready for that situation (exclusion), totally ready for it and were that to happen we would race under protest.
"And were a protest not to be entertained at the track, it certainly would in the Victoria Supreme Court.
"We've taken some pretty solid legal advice and, if necessary, we will be presenting ourselves up there and asking for injunctive relief to race under protest for a case that we know we would win ultimately when the arbitration was heard."
Stoddart, who has said his team will introduce their 2005 car at the fourth round of the season at Imola, has been at loggerheads with Mosley in recent weeks over the FIA's introduction of the new rules.
Although the changes have been pushed through to slow cars down for safety's sake, Stoddart has argued that his cars are so far off the pace anyway that they should be allowed to run unchanged.
"It's my belief, and that belief is backed up by some pretty solid legal advice, that the 2004 regulations are still in force," he told SEN. "We've elected not to waste a lot of money that a team like Minardi can ill afford to do."
Stoddart told Reuters that of the other nine teams, all except champions Ferrari, had agreed to Minardi running their 2004 car. Ferrari had yet to say yes or no."I've not formally asked them other than when talking to Jean Todt at Suzuka last year," said Stoddart. "It's a case of waiting and seeing what if anything Ferrari come to say."
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