Red Bull to Decide on Minardi Deal by Spa

Red Bull will decide by next weekend about whether to buy a controlling interest in Minardi after agreeing an option with the team at Monza, Autosport-Atlas has learned

Red Bull to Decide on Minardi Deal by Spa

Sources claim that Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has agreed a preliminary deal with the energy drinks company that could lead to a takeover of the team by the start of next season.

The option signed by Red Bull gives them until the Belgian Grand Prix to examine the Faenza team's financial situation in more detail before deciding whether to definitely go ahead with the plan.

The agreement also includes a clause that prevents the Italian outfit from continuing negotiations with any other interested party until Red Bull have made a final decision.

It is understood that Red Bull are keen to take over Minardi to help provide a berth for some of the younger drivers that the company are bringing on.

One suggestion is that if the deal goes ahead then test driver Scott Speed plus whoever out of Vitantonio Liuzzi or Christian Klien that does not land a 2006 deal with Red Bull Racing will drive for the team.

Red Bull's plans are believed to include using this year's Red Bull Racing chassis for the Minardi project next season.

This would mean that there would not be the expense of building a second car for the Minardi project - and it makes sense in design terms because Minardi have a deal to run the same Cosworth V10 engines in 2006 that the RB1 is designed around.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is believed to be keen for the deal to go through - especially as it would likely provide another ally in his bid to get teams signed up to the sport from the start of 2008.

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said at the weekend that he could see himself putting a deal together with Red Bull - although insisted that nothing had definitely been agreed.

"I have heard the Red Bull rumours and they are the kind of serious people that I would talk to," he said about Red Bull taking over the team. "But at the moment the story doesn't have any legs - although that is not to say it won't have in the future.

"If the price was right and it was good for the future of the team I would sell."

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