Minardi threatens British GP protest chaos

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone could be hit by protests over driver aids if a number of outstanding Formula 1 issues are not settled ahead of the July 20 race, according to Minardi chief Paul Stoddart

Minardi threatens British GP protest chaos

Stoddart has circulated a letter to team principals pointing out that as far as he is concerned, driver aids are banned from Silverstone onwards. Minardi, he says, will run without them. The implication is that anyone who does not leaves themselves open to protest.

Minardi's point is that the sport's governing body, the FIA, originally outlawed traction control from Silverstone prior to stating that it would waive the ban if certain other conditions were met, including cheaper engines and support for the smaller teams. But this, as yet, has not been forthcoming.

Stoddart said at Magny-Cours: "The whole idea of bringing it up two weeks ahead of time is to get it fixed before we get anywhere near Silverstone. Article 61 is pretty clear: drivers shall drive the cars unaided. At the beginning of the year Max was quite clear - a ban from Silverstone. And now, clearly, we don't have any cheaper engines, we don't have any support for the fighting fund and I've withdrawn my support for changes to the 2004 technical regulations."

Stoddart was keen to emphasise that he does not want to disrupt the British Grand Prix, but said he needs to do something now to raise awareness.

"By coming out early enough with this, we give everybody fair warning. What I'm saying is that I'm going to Silverstone without driver aids and I would urge that the other teams join me."

Stoddart added that there is time to resolve the situation: "Let's have a meeting, some give and take from everyone and let's sort it all out. I might have to give again on the 2004 rules, other teams might have to come clean with clear plans for a customer engine and support for the small teams. We've now got a situation where it will force the thing to be discussed.

"If we can have a properly drafted document with unanimous agreement of the team principals sent, via Max Mosley, to the world council for a fax vote, there's plenty of time. Two weeks is a lifetime in F1. The time to deal with this is now, not at Silverstone.

"If not, as regards protesting at Silverstone, I'd have to take that decision on the day. The main point is that we don't want anyone to have the opportunity to lodge a protest like that because it would, I believe, be successful.

"It would be wrong for one or two people to put their heads in the sand and ignore this. We would have uncertainty hanging over not just Silverstone, but every race thereafter. And that can't be good for the sport. It would be a sad state of affairs if I actually had to protest to drive the whole thing home."

FIA president Max Mosley confirmed that any protest that was lodged would be a matter for race stewards to consider.

Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, meanwhile, said: "This is a world where things change very quickly, so let's wait until Silverstone. I have been in this business a lot of years so I don't always react. If something had happened, okay, but let's wait and see."

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