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Minardi boss Paul Stoddart may now have to resort to legal action if his team is to take part in the season opening Australian Grand Prix, after Ferrari indicated on Tuesday night that it would not support plans to allow its rival to runs it 2004 cars.

After weeks of speculation about Stoddart's plans, because he claims he could not afford to get his 2005 car ready before the San Marino Grand Prix, there is now the distinct possibility that the team boss could be forced to sit on the sidelines for his home grand prix.

Eight of his rivals teams have supported the move to allow Stoddart to race his 2004 cars, which do not comply to the 2005 aerodynamic regulations but are modified to fall in line with safety requirements, but Ferrari has stood firm in rejecting its approval.

Stoddart said: "I spoke to (Ferrari sporting director Jean) Todt during the night, but he wasn't supportive at all. Todt kept saying it's an FIA problem although Max Mosley has gone on the record and said if we could got Ferrari's signature then we can race. I tried to explain that to him rationally.

"I asked him to delegate the powers to some other member of Ferrari who was actually in Melbourne so we could at least have the discussion. He refused, and the phone call came to an end without a conclusion."

Minardi now has less than 24 hours to resolve the situation, before the end of pre-event scrutineering on Thursday. If the team does not get approval to race by then, it may not be allowed to compete at all in Australia.

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