Former Formula One team owner Giancarlo Minardi has suggested that his eponymous outfit could still be in existence had he received the level of interest and support from the powers that be are getting in the current economic climate.
Minardi was everyone's favourite underdog, seemingly surviving in spite of meagre budgets and a driver list that ranged from below-par payers to future talents such as Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, but eventually succumbed to the inevitable, with Minardi himself selling out to Paul Stoddart in 2001, and the Australian then finding himself unable to resist the overtures of Red Bull in late 2005.
These days, the likes of Force India, Williams and the recently rechristened Brawn GP teams fall into the category of 'minnow' once occupied by Minardi, but none appears to be in quite the same situation as the Italian outfit found itself. However, Minardi also acknowledges that, in an era of offered financial assistance, budget capping, slashed costs and shared technology, he may not have had to dwell at the back of the grid or be forced to sell up.
Speaking in the wake of the FIA's decision to offer inducements for those teams willing to operate under a £30m budget, as well as other controversial changes, the Italian has admitted that the sport has changed immeasurably.
"What is immediately apparent is that we are facing a likely clash between FOTA and the FIA," he noted, referring to the governing body's decision to ignore proposals from the teams themselves about the future of the sport, "but it is now a federation that suddenly decides to defend the small team - something which it had never done in the past.
"Perhaps the same Minardi team, protected as the small teams are protected today, could still be part of Formula One. Minardi, if these proposals are put in writing, could possibly have managed something that was impossible before, bringing in new technologies - and lap times - achievable only by the top teams. I want to emphasise, however, that, when we were in F1, we were never
protected - in fact, we had to pay for our tyres and engines."
Acknowledging that the FIA's proposals still need to be fleshed out before any real critique could be made, particularly when it came to the new testing allowances and how they might affect the balance of power which, to many, appears to be teetering with just over a week to go to the opening grand prix of the season, Minardi insisted that it was hard to make any predictions.
"We are in a very chaotic situation, because the technical and sporting regulations have not yet been issued," he pointed out, "There are no certainties. Precisely for this reason, it becomes very difficult to comment on the choices made. I want to wait for more details, and I urge the fans to think of possible scenarios that could be created by some teams having limited budgets, but the freedom to develop the car, and others with unlimited budgets, but with limitations on development. Scenarios are not easy to imagine."
Having seen the likes of Webber and Alonso come through the Minardi ranks, however, the veteran is particularly concerned to see that testing has been limited, especially with regard to giving young talent the opportunity to get acquainted with F1 machinery.