Stoddart confronts Mosley as infighting turns ugly

The Minardi owner Paul Stoddart has called for the resignation of Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the world governing body, in the wake of their row at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Minardi owner Paul Stoddart has called for the resignation of Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the world governing body, in the wake of their row at the Australian Grand Prix.

Stoddart was angered by apparent threats made by Mosley about the race's future - which Stoddart described as "pathetic" - and warned that the sport was in danger of fragmenting thanks to the political infighting between Mosley and most of the teams.

Seven of the 10 teams and five of the major manufacturers are angry about Mosley's administration of F1 and are demanding changes.

"What we are doing here is pushing the F1 world championship to its destruction," Stoddart said. "The wounds are getting so deep now there is not going to be any healing. We are heading to the demise of F1 through our own bloody stupidity - too much pig-headed arrogance in all quarters."

The row came to a head in Melbourne when Minardi wanted to race their 2004 cars. They then won an injunction in the Victoria high court to allow them to run the cars after the FIA had declared them illegal. The FIA responded by issuing a statement threatening the future of the Australian Grand Prix and the country's round of the World Rally Championship.

Stoddart described the FIA statement as "an ill-judged, ill-timed document which I believe was created to disrupt and discredit the Minardi F1 team, the Australian Grand Prix and me".

"You've got to take it to the end now," he said. "Piece by piece the whole story is going to come out. You've got the manufacturers - Max has completely alienated them - and they are going to go their own way. Now you've got someone like me who's getting pushed. I'm going to go that way now whereas before I was sitting on the fence."

Meanwhile, BAR-Honda exploited a loophole in the new engine rules by retiring their cars near the end of the race. Under new guidelines drivers must make their engines last for two whole race weekends rather than one. Any unscheduled replacement brings a loss of 10 places on the grid. However, a driver can replace an engine without sanction if he retires from a race.

"At the end of the race obviously we chose to bring both cars into the pit lane," said team boss Nick Fry. "As we weren't in the points we might as well take advantage of the rules and give them a new engine for next time round."

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