Team Bosses Applaud Ecclestone's Minardi Move

Formula One bosses applauded Bernie Ecclestone for buying into struggling Minardi on Sunday while wondering what the commercial supremo's next conjuring trick would be.

Team Bosses Applaud Ecclestone's Minardi Move

Formula One bosses applauded Bernie Ecclestone for buying into struggling Minardi on Sunday while wondering what the commercial supremo's next conjuring trick would be.

"I think Bernie did what was in the best interests of the sport but no doubt in his interests as well," said BAR principal David Richards.

"It means that we have the 10th team secured now. I can imagine the ownership of that team will change shortly but who knows?," he added. "I would suspect that there is somebody waiting in the wings there to purchase the team."

Ecclestone's move on Saturday capped hours of intense behind-the-scenes activity in the Canadian Grand Prix paddock triggered by Minardi boss Paul Stoddart's decision to air grievances in public.

Stoddart, who withdrew his support for changes to next season's technical regulations, skirmished with McLaren's Ron Dennis at an extraordinary news conference on Friday that washed Formula One's dirty linen in public.

Stoddart accused rivals of trying to squeeze him out by failing to set up a 'fighting fund' to help struggling teams like his.

The next day, Ecclestone made critical comments about Stoddart's place in the sport and said he had tried to persuade him to call it a day last year, suggesting he should "piss off." By the evening, he was Minardi's minority shareholder.

Elegant Solution

"It's an interesting twist," said Dennis. "It is a very elegant solution to a difficult situation and I am delighted for Paul and applaud Bernie managing to do one of those acts you rarely see him do and put his hand in his pocket.

"Bernie's actions are very much to try and settle an inflammatory element that occasionally occurs in F1. I don't see it as a conflict of interest."

Richards saw no inconsistency in Ecclestone's comments and actions either.

"Bernie doesn't do anything just for pure charitable means, it's got benefits for the sport and I dare say there's some other objective that we haven't quite seen there," he said. "Bernie's obviously got some plan himself."

The argument over the fighting fund came against a backdrop of upheaval in the sport. The major carmakers are threatening a rival series from 2008 while the governing FIA is at odds with them over plans to cut costs and protect the smaller entrepreneurial teams by introducing affordable engines next year.

Ecclestone controls 25 percent of the sport's commercial rights and is deeply involved in talks with carmakers and banks over the sport's future.

"I suspect that we will find a solution for the engines and in an economic engine environment and a difference in circumstances, Minardi could be a profitable venture," said Richards. "I think now we've got a bit more stability.

"What happened the day before in the press thing wasn't very good for Formula One and we now have a more stable environment for all of us."

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