Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has asked that his team be exempted from the impending rule changes in Formula One, following Ford's withdrawal bombshell last week.

The Australian has asked the other nine teams to grant him a dispensation to continue running the current Minardi chassis-engine combination should no buyer be found for the Ford-owned Cosworth engine concern which, along with Jaguar Racing, was put up for sale by the Blue Oval in the build-up to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. Although Stoddart has said that Minardi could, if pushed, revert to three-year old engines in 2005, Cosworth's demise could potentially leave both the Anglo-Italian team and rival Jordan without motive power next season.

"It does leave a big question mark over engines and, indeed, over Jaguar," Stoddart told Reuters in Shanghai, "I'd like to think that Cosworth will find an owner - and I think it will - and I'd like to think that I'd be running with Cosworth engines [in 2005].

"But [the call for exemption] is a case of force majeure, because we are not talking money. We are talking about whether we have an engine supply or not next year."

Stoddart said that, in particular, he feared that there would not be enough time to re-design the already delayed 2005 Minardi to accept another engine for next season. The car has already started to take life, designed around the Cosworth units that Stoddart agreed a deal on earlier this month.

"My request is to say 'look, there is a serious situation' - and this is a crisis, whether people want to admit it or not," he continued, "So take Minardi out of the equation - and we're not viewed as a threat to anyone [on the track] - and let us run to the 2004 regulations. We'd run with the existing engine that we've got and we'd be competitive, but not enough to be a threat. The net result is that we'd have a transitionary year that would allow them to focus on finding an engine for Jordan - and finding a solution for Jaguar and Cosworth."

Stoddart said that, despite past confrontations, some teams had already been supportive of his request.

"I hope they all can agree. Frank [Williams] was very supportive, as was David Richards, Tony [Purnell] and Eddie [Jordan]," he said, "I think it's fair to say Toyota's on side too. You just need everybody, that's all."

 

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