Stoddart - 'Minardi has strongest ever package'

At a Minardi press conference in London, England, team principal Paul Stoddart talked to the media about his team and how preparations are going for the forthcoming 2003 season.

Paul Stoddart.
Photo by Mark Gledhill.

Firstly he covered the issue of sponsorship and how there is still some work to be done: "I'm going out there [Malaysia] in a few days time. I don't know whether they are going to renew as big a sponsorship without Alex, but they are true friends so I am still hoping to have them Malaysian friends with us next year. We've still got KL here, that's part of our commitment to them. It won't be called Go KL as there's a new campaign next year but hopefully you'll see Malaysian sponsorship on Minardi in 2003."

Stoddart was quick to praise Alex Yoong and how his performance improved during the 2002 season. After explaining why Yoong suffered problems during the year, Stoddart said "I'm proud of the way he did those last three races because he was incredibly good in all three of them...We certainly hope to see him testing as an official test and reserve driver for Minardi in 2003."

However the hot topic of the day was the new Ford engine that will be in the back of the Minardi cars in 2003. Stoddart described the new power plant in some detail: "Fantastic. I'm mean it's 20 kilos, well if you want to be absolutely precise it's 19 kilos lighter than last year's engine, 70 horsepower more than last year's engine, and 2000 rpm more than last year's engine. Combine that with our aerodynamic package for 2003, and you've seen one half of our driver line-up, if we have a bit of luck, and you need luck, anything's possible next year...I think there will be three teams that we will be competing with every weekend, and one or two others when they're having a bad day and we're having a good day. My dream would be you see one of our cars fairly high up in the qualifying from time to time and my goal for this year is to score points. I'm aiming for seventh in the championship if we can achieve that, and I'm hoping, I just mean this as hoping, we need luck here. Remember that the engine and the package we've got was on the podium in Monza - that's only a couple of races ago. If we could be lucky and break that 19-year duck of never having had a podium for Minardi then I'd be struggling to see if we'd turn up for the next Grand Prix because I think we'd still be partying. This package is the strongest in the 19 years of Minardi's history, this is the strongest technical package the team will ever have had."