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Stoddart Not Ruling Out Sale to Irvine

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has not ruled out the possibility of selling his team to former Grand Prix driver Eddie Irvine

A report in The Sun over the German Grand Prix weekend suggested that Irvine is interested in buying the Minardi team after losing interest in a deal with Jordan, but said that talks had not yet begun in earnest.

Speaking to Autosport-Atlas, Stoddart claimed the only conversation he had had with Irvine was at this year's Monaco Grand Prix - although further talks may take place when Irvine flies into today's race at Hockenheim.

"I spoke to Eddie back in Monaco on a 'what-if' basis, but I believed at that time they were looking at Jordan," said Stoddart. "I want to stress that we have not had any discussions.

"I am aware he is shopping, but they are one of five people that I know are shopping at the moment. We are the only team for sale and I have made it clear, particularly if there was any manufacturer involvement, that I would always be willing to sell."

Irvine is believed to be acting as a front man for Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko, who has made his money from vodka and banking.

With Stoddart claiming to have lost count of the number of parties knocking on his door expressing interest in buying the team but not having the funds to make it happen, he has confirmed that he will want to see proof about Irvine and Tariko's financial means before talks go far.

"Always there are people sniffing around, but we have had too many false starts so I am going by numbers now," added Stoddart. "You just can't take any of it seriously unless there is money on the table."

And in a cheeky reference to the failure of Alex Shnaider to turn around the fortunes of Jordan despite his money, Stoddart claims there is nothing wrong with having billionaires in F1 - especially if they can do the kind of job that Dietrich Mateschitz has done at Red Bull Racing.

"We have had two reported billionaires come into the pit-lane this year," he said. "One of them has done a fantastic job, say no more!"

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