Stoddart Hits Out at Dennis Again

Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart was among the first Formula One men to make a public appearance in Melbourne today when he took the opportunity to remind rivals Ron Dennis and Frank Williams of their roots in the sport.

Stoddart Hits Out at Dennis Again

Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart was among the first Formula One men to make a public appearance in Melbourne today when he took the opportunity to remind rivals Ron Dennis and Frank Williams of their roots in the sport.

Against the controversial backdrop of the ongoing rows over the future of Formula One and following some carping comments by McLaren-Mercedes chief Dennis about the smaller teams, Stoddart chose a visit to the zoo in the Victorian capital to swipe back.

"We might not be able to beat McLaren, but I tell you that if I had their budget I'd be wanting to win the World Championship, not come third or fourth," he said. "It's no secret that our budget would probably only pay the McLaren food bill. And we're only a couple of seconds off the pace, so who is doing the best job?"

Stoddart spoke out as the ongoing dispute over the distribution of the commercial revenue generated by Formula One continued. He wants to see it more fairly shared between all the teams, but Dennis and Williams are less keen on that idea and want the bigger and more successful outfits to keep the majority of the money.

"They've all known what tough times are like, so I am amazed they've come out and criticised me," said Stoddart, whose position is supported by Eddie Jordan. "In the case of Ron Dennis in particular his words in the last week have been quite vicious and unfounded.

"Calling teams like Renault and Jaguar 'track cleaners' and more or less suggesting that nobody other than himself, Ferrari and Williams are serious in Formula One - well, I think we can do without that kind of rubbish. And when you get guys like Dennis making a personal attack on me, it destabilises our sponsors.

"We're a good professional team and we're here to do a professional job. And he should not forget that Project Four, the forerunner to McLaren, was called that for a reason. It was because he had three previously failed teams! And Frank Williams won't want to remember that he once had his transporters repossessed at Silverstone either.

"There have been a few outbursts by team managers who should have known better. I think they ought to stop and remember their own roots before they speak because they've had much tougher times than I've ever seen. When you get mega-budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and you've got the attitude that he's got, then you do lose touch with reality."

Stoddart's sharp words dominated the local news in Melbourne as the early countdown to Sunday's season opening race began with many close observers of the sport worried that they had little idea of what lies ahead. A winter of upheaval and radical rule changes has meant few people know what kind of spectacle the Australian Grand Prix will produce.

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