Stoddart Mourns End of an Era

Minardi owner Paul Stoddart mourned the end of an era for Formula One's small private teams on Sunday after selling to Red Bull

Stoddart Mourns End of an Era

Since the end of last season, four of the 10 teams have changed hands with Minardi's takeover promising to alter the Formula One landscape considerably.

Red Bull, owned by Austrian energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, now own two teams after buying Jaguar from Ford in November.

Jordan, founded by irrepressible Irishman Eddie Jordan, were sold to Russian-born Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider in January and will be renamed Midland next year.

Peter Sauber's eponymous Swiss-based team have been purchased by German carmaker BMW.

"It's a sad day for Formula One when the privateers really do go, but I think we are entering into a new era where the privateers are the Red Bulls, they are really well-funded," Stoddart told Reuters at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"They can do almost the same as the manufacturers because they have the funds to do it.

"Whereas EJ (Jordan), me and Peter when he first came in, and in fairness the many teams that didn't make it, probably came more up through the ranks," said Stoddart.

Jordan worked his way up through the Formula Three and F3000 junior series before entering Formula One in 1991. Sauber started with sportscars and made his Grand Prix debut in 1993.

"With me it was F3000 and Formula One. I don't really see that transition being made very easily now," said Stoddart.

Used Cars

Max Mosley, the head of the governing FIA with whom Stoddart has clashed this season, wants teams to be able to buy cars from others from 2008 but Stoddart opposed that.

"You would think that I would be all up for the idea of selling chassis between teams," he said. "In fact it's quite the opposite...I think a very important part of (F1's attraction) is that it is pure, that every single person racing their cars, good or bad, have built them themselves."

Stoddart will leave on November 1, promising a huge party after the final race of the season in China next month.

The aviation entrepreneur, who has been wheeling and dealing since he left school at 14, will have his hands full with the launch of his no-frills airline Ozjet in Australia but he admitted he would miss Formula One.

He promised to write a 'warts and all' book to reveal "the pain, the real pain of trying to keep a small team going, the things you have to do, the things you forego and the problems".

Stoddart added that Formula One could expect to see him return in some form or other.

"I don't think I'm finished in this paddock," he said. "I think I'll miss it too much. Whether I stay on as a consultant has yet to be decided, but probably not."

The Minardi name, a constant in Formula One since 1985, is also likely to disappear.

"That's the saddest thing. You have to respect the fact that although they (Red Bull) haven't said so, you would expect it's going to have a name change," said Stoddart. "Most likely the name will fade away.

"But it's better to have security for the people and the team...at least this way I know the team is going forward in a much stronger way than I could ever have done with it, at a time when there is still uncertainty in F1."

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