Saturday February 10th, 2001
Australian Paul Stoddart, new owner of the struggling Minardi team, has admitted his main concern right now is to have two cars ready for the first race of the season, while finding sponsorship money is a secondary target.
Stoddart took over the Faenza-based team ten days ago, saving the Italian outfit with only a month to go before the Australian Grand Prix, and Minardi is now facing a race against time to have their two cars ready for the first event.
As Stoddart admitted, finding sponsors is not the most important thing right now for Minardi.
"Sponsors are something we will certainly welcome," Stoddart said. "But our primary objective is to get the team there."
"That's not to say we won't have any, because we already have some. But we're pushing it. What do we have left, 20 days until the freight goes to Melbourne? Our task is to get the team there.
"We have a modest budget this year, and it depends where you operate on the grid what the costs are. If we don't get enough sponsorship I will have to fund it, as painful as that might be.
"At the moment we have one sponsor who's driver-related. We have no second driver yet and I want that sorted in the next few days."
Spanish driver Fernando Alonso has already been appointed to drive for the team this season, while veteran Italian Gianni Morbidelli is rumoured to be the favourite for the second seat.