Paul Stoddart has brought the Minardi name into Champ Cars by buying into the CTE Racing-HVM team. He is also hoping that there will be no need for politics in the American series as there was in F1. And who can blame him after the antics he was forced to get up to for Minardi to survive in F1?
It is good to see the Minardi name live on but, of course, the ethos of the team is long gone. In their Italian days, the team was the embodiment of all that was good in F1: a love of motor sport for its own sake, a light-hearted spirit that refused to be depressed by adversity and the best food in the paddock. Most of that had evaporated by the time Stoddart bought the outfit and now it is only a memory.
In reflecting on his foray into F1, Mr. Stoddart confirms what we all knew – that it has ceased to be a sport and is now a business. Small wonder that tiny minnows like Minardi have been squeezed out. But perhaps the most interesting point Stoddart makes is that he knows of at least one other F1 team considering making the move to Champ Cars.
One casts around quickly to see if a possible taker might be identified; but there is no obvious candidate. Red Bull already have a finger in the pie so perhaps this is what he means. But, if he has some other team in mind and especially if it is true, this is a telling comment on the fluctuating fortunes of F1 and Champ Cars.
When Champ Cars first began, it was not given much hope of survival in competition with its alter ego, the Indy Racing League. To everyone’s surprise, it has blossomed and become a major outlet for European and South American drivers who cannot get into F1 – there is currently only one American driver involved. If it now starts to siphon off teams from F1 as well, even the FIA would have to admit that there is something wrong with their sport/business.
Champ Car is attractive because it does not have the convoluted politics of F1, it relies on lower and less costly technology, but still delivers on the entertainment side. Battles between leading drivers are just as enthralling as in F1, perhaps more so since they are all in approximately equal machinery. It is a sport still and the main business of competition on the track has not been forgotten.
Perhaps F1 could learn a few things from it…