Stoddart: Minardi will survive 2003

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has dismissed fears that his team will suffer the same fate as Prost and Arrows next year and be forced out of Formula 1

Stoddart: Minardi will survive 2003

Motorsport boss Max Mosley and other F1 insiders believe there is a possibility that two more financially-strapped teams could pull out of grand prix racing, namely Jordan and Minardi.

But speaking to the Australian press, Stoddart reiterated that 75 percent of his 2003 budget is in place and said that there is "no doubt whatsoever" that Minardi will make it to the first race of the season in Melbourne.

"Basically when we went through the season getting to a conclusion in Suzuka, we had prospects for 2003 in terms of sponsorship and drivers and budgets," he said. "But there was nothing really firm and luckily - and I say luckily because these things can go either way - in the last few months we have managed to bring on board some very good sponsors and we feel quite confident that 2003 is now looking far less painful than it did in Suzuka.

"At the moment, for 2003, unlike 2002 and 2001, where I had to make substantial contributions, next year is looking like it's 75 percent funded - and at this time of the year that would leave me to hope that we will end up 100 percent funded."

The team has yet to confirm either driver for the season. Whoever is signed will have to bring money, but Stoddart said it would be unfair to label those he has in mind as 'pay-drivers'.

"I know one of them now, and I think I know the second one, but much as I would love to tell you, contractually I just can't at this moment in time," he said. "What I can say is that one of them is a new rising star, I hope, in F1."

Dutch veteran Jos Verstappen is believed to be one of them, while the "rising star" tag gives hope that Briton Justin Wilson has found a budget to secure a drive. But DTM racer and former German F3 champion Christijan Albers has also been linked to the seat.

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