Minardi runs its 2005 cars
Minardi finally hit the track in Melbourne on Saturday morning to prepare for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix having made overnight modifications to their cars to fully comply with the 2005 regulations.

Australian Minardi boss Paul Stoddart had wanted to run his old cars in the season-opening race because he claimed the team did not have enough time to prepare after new regulations were revealed late last year.

He went to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to run the 2004-spec machines after failing to gain the full support of his rival team bosses when Ferrari chief Jean Todt refused to allow his cars to run.

But after obtaining that agreement he made a last-minute about turn, despite assurances that he had a watertight case to run the old cars, and asked his mechanics to change the car in time for morning practice.

"After a lengthy series of meetings that finished roughly around midnight last night, in the interests of the Australian Grand Prix which has been embroiled in this battle together with the interests of Formula One as a sport, we have decided to discontinue the action," Stoddart said.

"We've taken it as far as we needed to take it and throughout the night we've managed to convert two of the cars to 2005 specifications and we will be running. As far as we are concerned the matter is over."

Minardi hit the track as soon as the lights went out to start the first 45-minute session with Austrian Patrick Friesacher making his debut as the first driver out on track.

He was also the first to set a time but his lap of 2:02.126 seconds was simply an installation lap to check the new bodywork and team-mate Christian Albers set a similar time early in the session.

Stoddart, who is launching a new low-cost airline in Australia, denied that the entire furore had been a publicity-seeking piece of theatre, saying he had proved an important point about the governance of the sport.
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