Stoddart: F1 is near destruction
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart warned that Formula One risked being ripped apart after he and the sport's governing body waged a war of words on Saturday at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

"As far as I am concerned what we are doing here is rapidly pushing the Formula One World Championship to its destruction," the Australian said after a day of accusations and counter-claims. "The wounds are getting so deep now there is not going to be any healing," he told Reuters.

Sporting politics hung heavily over the event, despite Stoddart dropping legal action against the FIA that would have allowed him to qualify with cars that did not conform to the regulations.

Minardi modified their cars overnight, a move that had many asking why they had not done so earlier, and competed according to the rules.

The fragile peace was broken when the FIA called into doubt the future of World Championship motorsport in Australia as a result of Stoddart's use of the Victoria Supreme Court to obtain an injunction.

Stoddart replied by claiming that he had been forced to climb down by a threat to cancel Sunday's race made by the FIA's lawyers at a midnight meeting on Friday. He accused the governing body of misleading the public.

"I would urge all of those with an interest in this matter to see the FIA press release for what it is: an ill-judged, ill-timed document which I believe was created to disrupt and discredit the Minardi F1 team, the Australian Grand Prix and me," said Stoddart.

Sources said the governing body had planned to abandon all competition on Saturday, withdrawing its officials and turning the race into a non-Championship event were Stoddart's injunction to have been upheld.

"We are heading to the demise of Formula One through our own bloody stupidity, too much pig-headed arrogance in all quarters to see the obvious," said Stoddart.

The background to the dispute lies in a power struggle over the sport's commercial future, an increasing divide between the manufacturers and governing body as well as increasing bitterness at perceived bias towards champions Ferrari.

The manufacturers are threatening their own series from 2008 when an existing commercial agreement expires.

They have been angered by FIA president Max Mosley's governance and by Ferrari doing a unilateral deal with the FIA and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone to extend the 'Concorde Agreement' to 2012.

Stoddart has long argued that Mosley did not follow correct procedures in forcing through rule changes introduced for 2005 on safety grounds and his legal action could have tested that.

"You've got to take it to the whole end now. Piece by piece the whole story is going to come out," said Stoddart of the battle ahead, warning that a damaging split like the one suffered by CART in America was now a real danger.

"You've got the manufacturers - Max has completely alienated them - and they are going to go their own way.

"Now you've got someone like me who's getting pushed, I'm going to go that way now whereas before I was sitting on the fence," said Stoddart.
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F1 Wounds Too Deep to Heal, Warns Stoddart

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