JANUARY 23, 2001
Minardi announcement imminent
AN announcement is expected within days that Australian Paul Stoddart has bought the Minardi team and Australia will have a Formula 1 team to support for the first time in nearly 20 years. The news should do wonders for the crowd numbers in Melbourne although the team is not expecting to be taking on McLaren and Ferrari in the immediate future.
"We will be lucky if we manage to shake down two cars before they have to be shipped to Melbourne," one insider told us, "but we hope that reliability throughout the year will enable us to stay in the top 10. If we score a point it will be like winning the World Championship."
With the emphasis being on reliability it is logical to suggest that as expected the team will not be using Mecachrome engines and will remain using the Fondmetal-badged V10s that were used last season. These are based on 1998 Ford V10s and were prepared last year by Robert Langford in Wellingborough. It is possible that Stoddart has managed ton do a deal for the engines to be developed but to date there is no official word from Cosworth as to whether a deal has been struck. The engines will almost certainly be renamed and logically one can expect them to be called something like a European V10.
The cars have been designed by Gustav Brunner and his team at Faenza in Italy and are developments of last year's neat and tidy Minardi. It is not yet clear what they will be called but again the name European is likely to feature strongly although there are still political questions to be answered as a name change requires the agreement of the other teams.
The funding of the team is yet to be announced but we understand that the money from TV rights will be available to Stoddart and as this is worth probably $10m a year it is valuable.
The drivers are expected to be Fernando Alonso and Enrique Bernoldi. Both will bring money to the team.
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