Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Toro Rosso, up for sale

Yesterday Dietrich Mateschitz went public on the sale of his second team, Toro Rosso, although F1 insiders have been aware that it was on the market for about the last six months. Speculation is now going to be rife as to who might purchase the team now that Red Bull have - and understandably so - no further use for it. In an article on, Joe Saward speculates on a number of possibilities. The benefits of buying into an existing team are clear, but the sums of money needed are, of course, accessible to a very few people and organisations. In addition to the points that Joe makes, I'd ponder the following.

Would David Richards be prepared to change his mind? He very firmly ruled out bringing Prodrive into F1 in January, once it was finally clear that the customer car route - to my mind foolishly opened in the first place - was being definitively closed off. He is an ambitious man who still 'firmly believes' that Prodrive should be contesting the F1 World Championship. However, he is a pragmatist and is not prepared, it seems, to risk everything he has to simply be in the game. In an interview with in January he noted that 'so many people have lost their shirts on Formula One and just got lost in the mists of enthusiasm'. It is clear that he does not intend to be one of those. The fact remains though that Richards wants to be in the game and, if it doesn't look like the rules of the game are going to change in the medium to long-term then perhaps he might alter his views before 2010, by which time Mateschitz really must have closed a deal.

Might Paul Stoddart be tempted to make a bid? He admitted last week that he had investigated any opportunities that might have surrounded the beleaguered Super Aguri team. When quizzed on the matter by in Melbourne he expanded on this, by explaining that 'if a team were to come onto the market at a sensible price that I felt I could do something with, then yes I would be interested'. Much more interested, he added, than in the prospect of starting a new team from scratch, at least whilst Max Mosley remains in post as the President of the FIA. The apparent decimation of Champ Car in the wake of its so-called 'peace deal' with the Indy Racing League may well only serve to encourage Stoddart - it is now clear that his Minardi Team USA will not be switching to the IRL. Not everyone would welcome Stoddart back to Formula 1 with open arms, but it would certainly serve to add a little colour to the sport and his time with Minardi certainly showed he has the ability to do quite a bit with very little.

Finally, the other question hanging in the air is would another major motor manufacturer be interested in taking on Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Ferrari and Renault to 'prove their worth'? There have been rumours for many years that Audi have been interested in making the move into Formula One - could this be the opportunity that they are looking for, possibly to bring to fruition a project that is already being developed behind the scenes? It is well known that Mosley and the FIA have been attempting to court additional manufacturers into the sport in the last few years, including Peugeot-Citroen, Hyundai and GM.

Whatever the outcome, it will have a significant effect on the make-up of the Formula One grid in the next decade.

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