Stoddart optimistic for 2002

KL Minardi Asiatech boss Paul Stoddart is optimistic that his team are in good financial shape heading into the new season. Minardi lost a major sponsor at the end of 2000 and there were fears that the Faenza based outfit would be a casualty of...

KL Minardi Asiatech boss Paul Stoddart is optimistic that his team are in good financial shape heading into the new season.

Minardi lost a major sponsor at the end of 2000 and there were fears that the Faenza based outfit would be a casualty of financial problems. Stoddart, who's European Aviation is one of Europe's fastest growing regional airlines, bought Minardi in January 2001. He spent last year finding sponsors, improving its market potential and finding new engines and drivers. Some may say that Minardi are a lost cause, but there was a perceptible improvement in the team last season.

"It has been a battle but it is one I now feel I am winning." Stoddart said. "We are certainly in a much better position than last season when it was touch and go whether we would make the opening race. Formula One just eats money and you have to find new ways of feeding the beast. Our budget is in place for this year but you can never have too much cash. The more you have the more you are forced to spend to try and make the car go faster."

In 2002 Minardi have the backing of Malaysian investments thanks to driver Alex Yoong, while new signing Mark Webber will bring support from the likes of Australian giants Foster's and Telstra. The new car, the PS02, will be powered by specialist company Asiatech on a customer contract. The team have not scored a point since 1999 and Stoddart is aware that things do not happen over night: "I am confident that with our limited resources we can start to make our way up the grid." He said.

There will be much interest focused on Minardi at the first race of the season in Melbourne thanks to his and Webber's Australian connections; Stoddart is hoping the event will be a special one. "The opening race in Melbourne on March 3 will be a huge occasion for Mark and myself because of our ties with Australia and I'm confident the crowds will have something to cheer for."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , Alex Yoong , Paul Stoddart
Teams Minardi