Stoddart Sad to Leave F1

Australian Paul Stoddart prepared to say farewell to Formula One on Saturday after selling his Minardi team to Red Bull

Stoddart Sad to Leave F1

"From a purely personal standpoint, I am going to be very sad to leave this paddock and the sport I love," he said in a statement at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"I have always said, however, that I would consider selling the team if a serious potential buyer could meet certain key conditions."

Stoddart said he had wanted to be convinced that the purchaser could do more to improve the team's competitiveness than he could, would continue to keep the team in Italy and ensure a stable future for most of the personnel.

"I am satisfied that Red Bull meets all of these criteria," he added. "And on that basis, I have agreed to sell the team."

The Australian, who saved Minardi from going to the wall when he bought the team five years ago, will remain in charge until the end of the season.

Red Bull already own a team and will run Minardi as a junior outfit for rookie drivers.

Stoddart said that his team, the least successful on the Formula One grid, may be the smallest but "it definitely possesses the largest heart.

"It would be entirely fitting, and not beyond the realms of possibility, to see Fernando Alonso...crowned as the youngest-ever Formula One world drivers' champion here tomorrow," he added.

Renault's Alonso started with Minardi in 2001.

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