'Fighting fund' row boils over in Montreal

Leading F1 team principals have clashed with Minardi boss Paul Stoddart over the non-payment of a 'fighting fund' proposed by McLaren boss Ron Dennis in January to assist the teams without manufacturer backing

'Fighting fund' row boils over in Montreal

Stoddart has withdrawn his support for the 2003 and 2004 sporting and technical changes as a result of receiving no money and the whole issue came to a climax in today's FIA press conference at the Canadian Grand Prix, where the bad feeling was palpable.

Stoddart claims that a verbal agreement reached on January 15 entitles both Minardi and Jordan to $8million but Dennis claimed that the fund always depended upon conditions, which were never met. The first was rule stability, which subsequently was not forthcoming following changes from the FIA that had a cost implication for the teams. The second was that commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone agreed to double the pot.

Dennis said in Canada that he resented being portrayed as the bad guy when he had instigated the proposal in the first place. He blasted: "If he [Stoddart] cannot stand the heat, then he should get out of the bloody kitchen!"

Stoddart responded: "I disagree strongly with what has been said. There were conditions about rule stability but would we want to change the results of the first three races? I don't agree with Ron on the extra costs and I don't agree with anyone that positive commitments were not made."

The question was subsequently raised that if there has to be a fighting fund to save the F1 minnows, why should it be their rival teams that have to pay? It was pointed out that the commercial rights holder (Ecclestone) takes out far more of the sport's commercial revenue than the teams, and that the FIA itself pocketed substantial penalty revenue when Toyota delayed its F1 entry by a year.

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War of Words Breaks Among Team Bosses in Montreal

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