Paul Stoddart's Minardi team has decided to highlight the fact that certain companies are currently getting a 'free ride' via his cars, by slapping 'not paid' stickers over the sponsor's logos on the two PS03s at Suzuka.

The Australian said that he was fed up with contracts for sponsorship being broken, and the belief that a back-of-the-grid team could be taken advantage of, and had decided to make the problem a little more public by covering the logos of the Stayer company with red 'default' stickers.

"It's a bit of a sad story actually," he explained at Friday's press conference, "Many of you know that we had a problem with the main sponsor at the start of the year and lost forty per cent of our budget through no fault of our own. Then, there are one or two others we've had problems with during the year.

"With this particular one, despite repeated warnings and bounced cheques and, God knows, every other problem, I took the decision to put 'not paid' on there today more or less just to send the message out that really you ought not to sign contracts if you don't intend to honour them."

Asked whether the future of the team had been helped by the announcement of an investment from F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, Stoddart brightened up when he was able to reveal that the former Brabham team owner's input had not yet been required as the team had managed to find more funding for itself.

"Bernie's 'influence' has helped the team, but I think I can make it very clear today that, although he hasn't invested any actual money, that's largely because the team has actually improved its position in terms of sponsorship and funding itself since Canada, which is probably the best way for it to go," he said, "But, certainly, having Bernie in the background has done no harm at all, more perhaps for the future than for the present. Sadly, he has had no influence on non-paying sponsors, but I wish he had."

Despite Ecclestone's involvement with the team, Stoddart denied that he was going to take an equity investment similar to that revealed between Jordan and Merrion Capital this week. The Minardi boss also revealed that he was certain that neither he nor Eddie Jordan were likely to receive any further financial help from the powers-that-be, despite talk of a 'fighting fund'.

"In a word, I think you know the answer - no," he said, "That's not strictly fair - we have had a little bit of help this year but, no, it wasn't the 'fighting fund' and' no' it wasn't what was well publicised back on 15 January.

"But there are reasons for that and I think, long term, the only way forward, as I've said before, is a new Concorde Agreement. It's not easy at the back of the grid but, then again, that's my problem. We're at the back of the grid because we haven't done a good enough job, I suppose, to attract any sponsors. But it would have been nice if the full 'fighting fund' had been delivered."

Stoddart also denied talk of a possible Italian consortium investing in - or buying out - Minardi before next season.

"[If they have been to the factory as quoted], you might like to tell me," he replied to journalists' questions, "Most teams have silly seasons over drivers, but Minardi - and sometimes Jordan - seem to have silly seasons over investors and ownership. I've made no secret of the fact that if the right deal came along - which I felt could take Minardi further than I could - then I would be interested in it. But, thus far, we've just had a lot of time-wasters and one or two individuals that perhaps were serious but, for one reason or another, have not chosen to go forwards.

"The answer is simply that there are no current negotiations on-going to do anything other than get on with racing next year."