Ex-Minardi boss says F1 return “wouldn’t be too difficult”

2020 F1 season

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Former Formula 1 team principal Paul Stoddart says the sport’s coming budget cap and other rules changes could lure private teams back to the sport.

Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview Stoddart, who ran Minardi prior to its sale to Red Bull at the end of 2005 and recently operated F1’s two-seater car programme, admitted he has considered returning to the sport.

“It’s certainly interesting at the moment because the budgets are being pulled back,” said the European Aviation boss. “So where the budgets, to a degree, got out of control, I do feel that it is getting a bit more sensible.”

Stoddart sees “a chance [that] there will be private teams coming” in the near future. “I’m not sure it will be ’22, but I think there’s a chance that F1 might become a bit more sensible. But a lot depends on what they do with the engine regs in ’25 or ’26.”

F1 has made good decisions in recent years, said Stoddart, including the hiring of former Ferrari team principal Stefano Dominicali to take over from Chase Carey as CEO, which he called an “excellent choice”.

Any new entrant to the sport which would increase the size of the current grid beyond 10 teams will have to make a $200 million “anti-dilution” payment which is shared between the other competitors. Stoddart said taking over an existing team will therefore be a far more appealing option for those looking to enter the sport, and believes there are two options on the grid.

The last days of Minardi – Part one: How F1’s ultimate underdogs went out fighting
“Gene Haas has got to make his decision what he’s going to do and Alfa Romeo are going to make their decisions. And that’s assuming that Renault is going to keep going because I’m not completely convinced they are. Time will tell.

“So I think there will be teams come up from time to time that can be bought for less than that 200 million entry fee. If I was somebody looking to get back in, I’d be looking at buying a team, not starting a new one, even though we have all the facilities to do it.”

Other teams have already changed hands in recent seasons including Racing Point, which took over the assets of the former Force India team. “You saw them virtually run out of money and go into administration but then obviously along comes Lance Stroll’s father and bails them out with a consortium that now means they’re set up for life.

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“You’ve just seen Williams change hands – which is quite sad from a personal point of view, I feel for Frank – but you’ve seen Williams changed hands for not a lot of money, really. And there’s still one or two out there still.”

Christijan Albers, Tiago Monteiro, 2005
Minardi left F1 at the end of 2005
Stoddart admitted the new regulations led him to consider a return to F1. “When we were there as the 11th team with the F1x2 [two-seater] I had a bit of information that things were going to go kind of the way they have gone in terms of the new deal.”

A Haas-style operation would be a realistic option for Stoddart, he said. “I’ve got about 90% of what I need. I’ve got all the facilities: I’ve got the trucks, the motorhomes. And, to a certain degree, a lot of the people, we’ve still got our car build capacity. So for us to set up like a Haas where you contract a lot of stuff out and have a team of 100, 150 people, that wouldn’t be too difficult.”

However he admitted returning to F1 would be a significant distraction from his aviation business. “I was thinking about it quite seriously in 2018, not quite so much in 2019 because we were going in a different direction with the company and ploughing squillions of dollars into aviation.

“If I went back into F1 it’d be a bit of a distraction because, to be honest, I absolutely love it. I would give it 110 percent because you have to with F1, it’s all consuming and so it would be much harder to run my other businesses.”

Part two of our exclusive interview with Paul Stoddart on Minardi’s final season in Formula 1 will be published today on RaceFans. Read part one in last week’s RacingLines column

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 24 comments on “Ex-Minardi boss says F1 return “wouldn’t be too difficult””

    1. Come on Stoddy, make it happen.

    2. Bring back Minardi! I miss them.
      F1 was so much better then. Much more a sport, less a corporate marketing medium.
      Back when F1 teams were still run by revheads and mechanics fueled by their passion for motorsport.
      Now they are run by corporate conglomerates interested predominantly in selling only their own brand, or propelling their children to the top of whatever it is that F1 has become.

      1. What a weird exaggeration.
        Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday has been a motorsport saying since forever. Ford started racing the Quadricyle in 1896…

        Have you ever looked into the history and current goings-on from Zak Brown, Toto Wolff or Christian Horner, or Steiner? They are all motorsport guys through and through.
        Zak has forgotten more about motorsport than most of the people here can remember about it.

      2. This feels like rose-tinted glasses rather than any kind of logic.

        1. Maybe it’s rose-tinted glasses, maybe it’s the benefit of hindsight.

          The way F1 was in the mid-late 80’s and through the 90’s drew me to watching it a lot more.
          The way it is now… Well, I certainly wouldn’t start now if the current era was my first experience of F1.

      3. Well we are racing in Imola again so anything can happen!

        #bringbackMinardi

    3. Speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview Stoddart

      Is this part-1 of 2 exclusive about him buyback the Red Bull?

    4. Would be nice to see teams with more backing come in to F1 (other than to give their son a race seat), does F1 really need the return of a perennial backmarker?

      1. Maybe it wouldn’t be as good if only one backmarker team returned, but hopefully a few might. I used to really enjoy the extra mini-race between Caterham, Marussia and HRT, and it was so exciting when one of them was in a position to potentially score some points. I think it would be great if Minardi and maybe two more backmarker teams joined soon, but even just Minardi would be great.

      2. Yes, it does.
        Marussia, Caterham and HRT were the teams I always focused on most in the early 2010’s. Just as Minardi, Jordan and Arrows were in the late 90’s – early 2000’s.
        Of course, there were more cars and teams in F1 then.

        We don’t all feel the need to be glory hunters, following only the most successful team of the day.

      3. Jose Lopes da Silva
        28th October 2020, 12:08

        Of course it does. F1 should have 5 or 6 perennial backmarkers. What’s your doubt about that?
        Have you checked the Premier League and the Championship? Did you noticed that there are dozens of perennial backmarkers over there?
        How could we have the number of football players we have without sustainable perennial backmarkers?
        Without perennial backmarkers, we have people buying seats and teams. Not temporarily, like Lavaggi or Deletraz, but permanently. Perennially.

    5. f1 need minardi jordan lotus tyrel brabham

    6. I believe he’s made a fortune because of Covid via his transport company so he would have the cash to splash.

      1. And yet, he chooses not to spend it in F1…

        1. Stephen Higgins
          28th October 2020, 10:47

          I don’t blame him.

      2. Sure you have the right person? This isn’t Eddie Stobart, it is Paul Stoddart – an Aussie who made his money in the airline charter business and that industry is not doing too well at the moment. Also, he is no relation to Suzie Stoddart (now Mrs Woolf).

        1. @mrfill His business has been moving medical equipment around the world, he’s done well…very well.

    7. Not too difficult, if you have $200 million laying around and if you can find an existing team to sell for that amount or less. That’s two big ifs. Besides, it would then just be a rebadge of an existing team.

      1. That team for sale could be Haas.

      2. That team for sale could be Haas. Seems Haas wants out of F1.

    8. WEll, maybe Mercedes will be for sale soon enough…

    9. PLZ COME BACK I BEG YOU!!!
      Minardi + Sebastian Vettel/Robert Schwarzman + Ferrari 2023

    10. Buy back the Faenza team and resuscitate Minardi! It could be Minardi-AlphaTauri, with some backing from RedBull!

      One can dream…

    11. #bringbackMinardi

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