Minardi back FIA decision on Phoenix

KL Minard principal Paul Stoddart backed the FIA's decision to not allow new team Phoenix to race at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Phoenix bought out assets of Prost but the FIA judged they had only bought cars, not the right to race in F1 as a team....

KL Minard principal Paul Stoddart backed the FIA's decision to not allow new team Phoenix to race at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Phoenix bought out assets of Prost but the FIA judged they had only bought cars, not the right to race in F1 as a team. It emerged before the Australian Grand Prix that Stoddart had put in an unsuccessful bid for Prost and was furious when Arrows' boss Tom Walkinshaw came to light as one of the backers of Phoenix. The would-be team arrived in Malaysia within the past couple of days, only to be immediately blocked from entering the race by the FIA.

Phoenix did not show up for official scrutineering after the FIA issued a statement saying the team could not race, although their cars and mechanics are still in Kuala Lumpur. Stoddart thinks the right decision has been made. "Scrutineering has now closed and I don't see any Phoenix anywhere, so I suggest righteousness has prevailed," he said. "But it has been a hell of a fight. It was a spoiling move, but I did it for the right reasons. I think that what deserved to stay dead has done so. Hopefully this mess is now behind us."

"In anything in law there are rights of appeal, not that there is anywhere I feel this can go now. We have eight legal opinions, both in the English and French language, all of which conclusively and without hesitation, qualification or any riders whatsoever categorically support the FIA's position. The Prost Grand Prix team and the name Prost was not part of any sale. Furthermore no rights to enter the 2002 World Championship were transferred which leaves any buyer, Phoenix or otherwise, not able to compete in the 2002 championship."

Minardi stand to gain millions of television money from the Concorde Agreement if the new team are permanently not allowed to enter the 2002 Championship. Stoddart thinks the deadline for reviving Prost was well and truly past, saying: "The Prost entry is dead. In law dead means dead and this team cannot rise from the ashes."

Tom Walkinshaw, who's TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) group was to have provided the new team with engines, had no comment about the FIA ruling in the team owners meeting at the Sepang circuit today. Stoddart said he and Walkinshaw had not discussed the situation in regards to Prost: "We had a friendly banter at each other in the team owners' meeting, but the Prost situation was not discussed," Stoddart said.

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About this article
Series Automotive , Formula 1
Drivers Paul Stoddart , Tom Walkinshaw