"RED BULL bought MINARDI today"

9/11/2005 4:10:22 AM ADT (GMT -3)

(Image from BBC Sport)

RED Bull has bought Minardi as a junior Formula One team to bring on rookie drivers, company founder Dietrich Mateschitz announced today. The Austrian energy drink billionaire, who already owns one team after buying Jaguar from Ford last November and renaming it, said Minardi would remain under existing management until the end of the season.

After that point, Australian team principal Paul Stoddart will stand down. Mateschitz said the decision was taken mainly to give experience to youngsters under contract to Red Bull through development programs. "We have more drivers than cockpits and we had only two possibilities," Mateschitz said at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"First we try to find cockpits for our talents in other teams or second we try to increase the number of our own cockpits. "We decided to do the second, simply because we can control it. We have all the responsibility, safety, spirit in the team, performance of the car - which we cannot guarantee and control when we put our drivers in other teams."

Italian-based Minardi s the smallest and least successful team in Formula One. It has never won in 336 races since 1985 and sits last in the championship. However, the Faenza team, with a tiny budget in comparison to the likes of Ferrari and Toyota, has a strong loyalty among supporters as independents battling against the big guns and occasionally pulling off an upset.

Mateschitz said three areas had yet to be decided: the management of the team, the drivers and the team's future name. "We are still thinking about that," he said. However, he ruled out Minardi being transformed into an American team, an idea mooted by him in the past. Red Bull conducts a driver search program in the US and its main team recently confirmed Californian Scott Speed as a test and reserve driver for 2006.

"Not for the time being. For an all-American team we need a car manufacturer, an engine supplier with a US origin, we need two drivers and unless we have those, an all-American team makes no sense because it's not true," he said. "The positioning for the Minardi team is rather that of a rookies' team for our junior drivers." Minardi will not be able to run this year's Red Bull car next season, because that is forbidden in the regulations, but there will be clear links between the two teams.

"Of course, it will be a kind of a sister team," said Mateschitz. "We have some synergies, some know-how but everything else will be independent. Minardi will be responsible for itself." Red Bull is one of three teams, along with Ferrari and Jordan, to have signed up for an extension of the existing commercial agreement to 2012 after its expiry in 2007. Minardi will now join it.

"This is very likely," said Mateschitz. That in turn will put increased pressure on the major carmakers, still nominally planning their own series from 2007, to reach an agreement with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone. "I am going to be very sad to leave this paddock and the sport I love," said Stoddart. "I have always said, however, that I would consider selling the team if a serious potential buyer could meet certain key conditions."

Patrick Wedes
PUBLISHER FORMULA - The International Autosport Magazine

Wow! This is new, it goes to show in F1, anything can happen. I personally felt that F1 is in a middle of a change in a big way. Come to think of it, F1 is becoming much larger compare to 10 years ago, more global. No longer privateers of yesteryears, now is the era of big boys and mega corporations who can effort the budget. *sign* Guess all that expenses cutting policies from Max and FIA has come to knot.