Minardi highlights sponsor problem

Minardi is running at Suzuka with 'not paid' printed on one of its barge boards in the place of a sponsor it claims did not pay up for its space on the car

Minardi highlights sponsor problem

The Anglo-Italian team is the smallest in the paddock, and even relatively small sponsorship deals are vital to its existence.

Team boss Paul Stoddart explained: "It's a bit of a sad story actually. Many of you know that we had a problem with the main sponsor at the start of the year and lost 40 percent of our budget through no fault of our own, and there are one or two others we've had problems with during the year.

"With this particular one, despite repeated warnings and bounced cheques and, God knows, every other problem, I took the decision to put that on there today more or less just to send the message out that really you ought not to sign contracts if you don't intend to honour them."

On the subject of the team's future ownership, Stoddart denied the presence of rumoured Italian investors waiting in the wings to help the cash-strapped team.

"If anyone knows where they are, they might like to tell me," he quipped. "Most teams have silly seasons over drivers but Minardi and sometimes Jordan seem to have silly seasons over investors and ownership.

"I've made no secret of the fact that if the right deal came along, which I felt could take Minardi further than I could, then I would be interested in it. But thus far we've just had a lot of time-wasters and one or two individuals that perhaps were serious but for one reason or another have not chosen to go forwards. There are no current negotiations on-going."

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