Thursday February 8th, 2001
European Minardi team chief Paul Stoddart is not harbouring high hopes for the coming season and is keeping his feet well on the ground in the build up to this year's campaign.
The Australian businessman, whose takeover of the Minardi team saw him fulfil a childhood ambition to become a Formula One team owner, plans to merge the Italian team with his European Formula Racing Company, but he realises that his task is not going to be easy.
"We're all realists," said Stoddard. "We know we have a huge job ahead of us, but we also know we can do it and that a lot of the fun is going to be in the journey that takes us from here to there.
"Everyone, both at Faenza and at Ledbury, is working flat out to ensure a pair of European Minardis are on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne."
The ambitious Stoddard showed how he has built up his racing business, which is part of his European Aviation Group of Companies, with a demonstration at the Italian circuit of Viarano this week.
He called his various business projects together last weekend, saying that the event was an effort to "get the lads and the cars together from our operations in the UK and Italy so they could get to know one another."
There was a European Minardi F1 and a European Minardi F3000 car present, along with the F1 two-seater also created by his business.
"It was definitely a useful team-building exercise," he said. "The programme served to remind us all of the business we're in, which is motor racing.
"Like all top sports, it requires high levels of expertise and a lot of hard work to achieve success, but it also requires passion and dedication. I sensed all those elements here and that makes me optimistic for the future."