Martin Kendrick, team principal of FIA F3000 Championship newcomers Brand Motorsports, has today announced that the team will not participate in the remainder of the season, claiming that the motorsport environment was not right for the team to continue operating in.

Kendrick stated 'that the Brand F3000 team was put together to challenge and win the F3000 championship in its first year', and that it had been 'a hard and soul-searching decision to withdraw'.

"The F3000 championship has huge potential and given some reform could continue to be at the upper end of world motorsport," he said.

Kendrick went on to say that he was concerned about motor racing in genera, particularly given the current economic slowdown.

"This year, there have been factors outside of the sport which have had influence, such as the war in Iraq and now the additional factor of the SARS virus, but that the root of the problems lie within," he said, in reference to some of the 'problems' being blamed for the lack of finance in the sport.

"From F3 to Euro and FIA F3000, Nissan World Series, Nippon and F1, the sport is experiencing issues the likes of which it has never seen before in it's history. Motorsport is making the mistake that many industries do when they become successful, and that is forgetting who the real customer is and failing to generate value for them and their sponsors or business partners. Teams can only reap the benefits for so long before there is nothing left in the pot. You have to give some returns, otherwise you get the situation as now where drivers have no budgets, teams struggle to find sponsors and championships fail through lack of talented drivers."

Brand Motorsports was founded on the same business ethics as other companies in the Brand Group and it tried to go forward in 'an honest, ethical and professional manner', with a fundamental goal of generating sponsorship value. It had ambitious marketing plans designed to change the face of the F3000 championship and make it approachable and accessible. However, the team admits that it soon became clear that these ideals did not fit well at this level of the sport, claiming that much double-dealing and corruption was commonplace in driver management and resulted in the team's decision to raise sponsorship on a team basis and take zero budget drivers.

When it became common knowledge that Team Astromega was being sold for spares to another F3000 team, Brand discussed the matter with other teams and stepped in to purchase the cars and spares to keep them in the championship. The team had a four-car sponsorship package on the table and had British F3 champion Robbie Kerr lined up for the vacant seat.

According to the team, this was when the ethics of other parties in the championship became clear for all to see. The goods were inspected, a price was agreed, Astromega sent over the bank details and Brand, having again confirmed the details of the transaction, wired the funds. Astromega then rang to confirm receipt of the funds and, with the contract being complete, said that it was happy for everything to be collected.

Shortly afterwards, however, Brand received a call to say Astromega would not allow collection even though it had received the money and the deal was done. Brand subsequently engaged lawyers and the matter is now proceeding through the extended legal processes that surround international transactions. Astromega has since returned the money it was paid, but Brand is significantly out of pocket through transaction charges and legal fees, and Kendrick said that he found it incomprehensible that one team could treat another in this way.

"The price of having principles can be high, and I am sorry we will not be taking part in the rest of this year's championship," he admitted.

The FIA also indirectly added to the problem by affording Astromega an illegal entry into the championship as, according to Brand, the entry contravened rule 32 of the FIA sporting regulations. Despite seven approaches to the FIA, the governing body did not give any indication as to why this rule was being ignored. The blow was particularly galling for Brand, as the team also claims that the FIA compromised its attempt to purchase Nordic Racing earlier in the year after failing to adequately clarify critical questions raised by the team.

Kendrick said that he had informed the FIA, FOM and selected teams in the championship prior to the Imola race that, if Astromega was allowed to race in contradiction to rule 32, then he would strongly consider pulling his team from the championship.

However, when the opening round arrived, Kendrick found that he had other pressing matters to attend to, namely the much reported rift with lead driver Nicolas Minassian, to whom the team boss claims he afforded too much loyalty prior to the season, only to be rewarded by malicious comments and 'a driving performance at Imola so full of mistakes that one USA commentator stated he thought Minassian had given up'.

"This is not the performance I expected from an experienced and professional driver," he said, "I wish I had given the seat to someone more genuine and deserving, such as Robbie Kerr or Gimmi Bruni."

Kendrick, obviously disappointed with his brief flirtation with the FIA F3000 Championship, was at pains to point out that it was only a select section of the series and its participants that had caused him such dismay, and that he still held others in high regard.

"There are some great guys in F3000 - Coloni, Arden, Durango, BCN and the guys at Zytek - and I wish them the very best for the rest of the season," he said

He also admitted that the decision to withdraw from the championship was disappointing in that it would impact heavily on the immediate career progression of young British driver Gary Paffett.

"I feel very bad that this has left Gary Paffett without a drive," Kendrick sighed, "Gary is a brilliant guy with a superb personality and thinks about his colleagues before himself. If Jaguar F1 make a driver change after the next race, I hope they will seriously consider Gary for that seat, he would deliver immediately and exceed all their expectations."

Kendrick has revealed that, while not engaging in another championship, he is going to spend the near term looking to see how he can work with teams such as Britain's Manor Motorsport to help young talented drivers achieve the recognition they so badly need.