Stoddart sick of Phoenix

Stoddart sick of Phoenix

Minardi principal Paul Stoddart is sick to death of the ongoing situation surrounding the would-be F1 team Phoenix that bought assets of Prost Grand Prix earlier this year. The Australian businessman, who rescued Minardi from possible bankruptcy...

Minardi principal Paul Stoddart is sick to death of the ongoing situation surrounding the would-be F1 team Phoenix that bought assets of Prost Grand Prix earlier this year. The Australian businessman, who rescued Minardi from possible bankruptcy in 2001, said the controversy has distracted him and ruined his year.

Paul Stoddart after his run on the track.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Stoddart is still owed approx ?12million from television rights that had been intended for Minardi following the demise of Prost. Phoenix tried to take Prost's position in Formula One and therefore the place in the Concorde Agreement, which has caused delays in settling the commercial revenue. Phoenix claimed it had the right to race -- and to commercial income -- after buying Prost cars but the FIA ruled they had only bought assets of the defunct team, not the place in the 2002 championship.

While Phoenix continue to battle for a place in F1, the ongoing case has delayed payment to Stoddart who has been forced to make job cuts and postpone development at European Racing's Ledbury base in the UK. This week a judge ruled that the FIA were correct in refusing Phoenix entry to the championship but Phoenix could now appeal against the decision and hold things up even longer.

Stoddart said the delays may cause him to reconsider his involvement in F1: "I don't want to say it would threaten Minardi because that would start all kinds of crazy rumours," he said. "But you have to ask yourself the question: would I fund a $12m shortfall if I really thought that I had been shafted from one end of this pit lane to the other?"

"The answer is probably not, but that's me today. I am certainly not a very happy bunny about the fact that I'm having to chase this money across the world. If this situation is not resolved, I don't think I will want to be here next year. I will hang in there but I am not enjoying it. I came into Formula One for the sport, not to play politics."

Phoenix made its bid to enter F1 at the Malaysian Grand Prix after English businessman Charles Nickerson bought assets of Prost. Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw was involved in technical supplies to the intended team, his Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) group were to supply engines to Phoenix. Stoddart was vehemently opposed to the situation right from the start and is now fed up with the whole thing.

"I am sick to death of this whole Phoenix issue," he commented. "It's distracted me and taken my eye off the ball since the very first race. It's ruined this year for me. I said last year that I was not going to fund losses this year. I came into this year with a full budget and I've still got a full budget as long as I get paid."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Paul Stoddart
Teams Minardi