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Stoddart: Teams could boycott French GP

NEWS STORY
26/06/2005

In a move which could send further shockwaves through Formula One, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has warned that teams could choose to boycott next Sunday's Grand Prix.

Ahead of this week's meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, Stoddart, whose team raced at Indianapolis, and is therefore not one of the seven (Michelin-shod) teams facing possible punishment, warned that a severe penalty could mean teams missing the second successive race.

"In the worst possible situation of some kind of draconian penalty, would the other teams race?" said Stoddart, talking to BBC Radio Five Live. "I think we'd have a meeting and you wouldn't guarantee it."

It is unclear what action the FIA will take. A race ban is unthinkable as it would once again most affect the people that the sport needs, fans, broadcasters and sponsors.

Meanwhile, the deduction of points - bearing in mind that the seven 'Michelin teams' missed out at Indy - would merely 'help' Ferrari, which would further widen an already growing rift.

Therefore, if the FIA feels that further punishment is necessary, a fine appears to be the only answer. Indeed should the money from such a fine be used to compensate fans that attended last week's race, this might help to ease the situation as the furore rumbles on.

Talking to Autosport magazine, Frank Williams admitted that he believes, FIA president, Max Mosley, will use the current situation to "humiliate" the teams, and therefore fears the worst on Wednesday.

Stoddart warns that a Draconian punishment might lead to further action - or rather lack of it.

"That is positively frightening, because if it is anything more than a reprimand it would be wrong. The teams were totally innocent victims, as was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as were the American public.

"It could be anything," he continued, "I have heard unofficial reports of what it might be, ranging from a $2.5m fine to a suspended ban, to all kinds of possible things. I would hope Max would come to his senses but who knows?"

Pitpass can reveal that twice this year, nine of the teams attempted to organize demonstrations against the current political situation in F1, which threatens the very future of the sport. The FIA's failure to get Ferrari to agree to a 30-day test limit caused the teams to seriously consider not participating in either of the Friday free practice sessions in Melbourne, then again at Imola. It was only due to the fact that certain team principals believed such action would do the cause irreparable damage that the 'demonstrations' never happened.

Now, having proved a point at Indianapolis, and shown new-found solidarity, it is wholly possible that the teams would act as one should they feel any further punishment is unwarranted.

Stoddart has made no secret of the fact that he blames Mosley for last week's events, just as he blames Mosley for most of F1's other ills, and subsequently called for his resignation.

It is clear that F1 is heading for a showdown and the thought that race fans and organizers are being left wondering whether next weekend's race could become another farce is truly shocking. Another no-show, indeed any further public squabbling could well result in the death of F1, as we know it.

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