Minardi Receive Mixed Backing from Rivals

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has received mixed backing in his efforts to run non-conforming cars in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix despite assertions from all teams except Ferrari that they will be allowed to take to the grid.

Minardi Receive Mixed Backing from Rivals

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has received mixed backing in his efforts to run non-conforming cars in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix despite assertions from all teams except Ferrari that they will be allowed to take to the grid.

Stoddart has called for exemption from this year's aerodynamic regulations for the first race of the season because they were brought in too late for his cash-strapped outfit to prepare for the race in Melbourne.

His cars failed to run in Friday practice and the matter was turned over to the hands of a court, who granted an injunction to Minardi, who will be able to qualify on Saturday.

Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner, who yesterday denied his team's support to Minardi, said: "I am happy to state that I am delighted that the stewards have taken it on.

"As far as I am concerned, the FIA are the regulators of Formula One and I don't see why the teams should be involved in saying whether someone should break the rules or not. The rules are the rules at the end of the day and it is ultimately down to the regulators to police that."

Horner admitted he would not have backed the plan and FIA president Max Mosley claimed on Friday morning that three teams were now against Stoddart's attempts to steer around the rules, even though his cars are expected to still be the least competitive on the grid even in 2004 specification.

BAR-Honda boss Nick Fry, who was also not in his position when Stoddart first mooted the idea, said: "I think it is good that the teams eventually all stuck together and tried to be supportive of Paul.

"But at the end of the day the referee is the referee and the sport does need to have an independent referee and I think they made a brave decision and good on them."

But Colin Kolles, the boss of Minardi's closest rival Jordan, had different ideas and claimed that his cash-strapped outfit, who only recently secured their future when they were sold to Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider, had managed to conform to regulations so Minardi should also be forced to do so.

Kolles said: "We didn't sign the paper today. We just said we won't protest against Minardi because we think that rules are rules. I think that Jordan was in a worse situation than Minardi in December and January. We managed to bring cars confirming to the 2005 rules so I think it should be possible for Minardi."

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