Minardi on the brink of F1 pull-out?

The Minardi Formula 1 team may be forced to withdraw from next year's world championship due to financial problems

Minardi on the brink of F1 pull-out?

Minardi's financial security for 2001 seemed to have been guaranteed when former chairman Gabriele Rumi sold his 69.9 per cent share in the team to the Argentinian television network PSN at the end of September.

However, the team's failure to secure an engine supply has now caused PSN to rethink the deal and pull out, although it may maintain links with Minardi driver Gaston Mazzacane. That would appear to leave Rumi with little option but to return to the helm of the Faenza-based outfit.

"They have problems, and they may forced to withdraw from F1 altogether because of the engine situation," said an insider.

Minardi experienced similar difficulties in finding a power unit last year, but eventually established a one-year deal with Cosworth, which supplied a customer engine that was re-badged by Minardi's technical partner Fondmetal.

Cosworth has refused to repeat the arrangement and following Renault's return to F1 with the Benetton team, the Supertec engine - which is based on a Renault Sport design - is not available next year, leaving Minardi with few alternatives.

"The team doesn't want to comment at the moment," said a spokeswoman. "When the situation is clear, we will issue a release."

Should the F1 minnow be forced to withdraw, only 10 teams will take to the grid next year for the first time since 1971. However, it remains questionable whether that will be allowed to happen by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

An announcement from Minardi is expected next week.

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