Back in October 2004, in a bid to cut down engine power and rein in spiraling costs, the FIA had proposed a change in formula – switching all cars to 2400 cc V8 engines, instead of the current 3000 cc V10 units. This definitely meant that whatever developmental work teams were carrying out on their 3.0 litre V10 engines would at best be of use for 19 GPs.
Of course, that hasn’t deterred the big teams from pumping millions into gaining milliseconds. But what’s worth noting is that a ‘perennially cash strapped tail-ender’ – Minardi – has spent a fortune developing its new car, the PS05. Apart from a completely new chassis and aerodynamics package, the minnows upgraded to Red Bull spec Cosworth engines too. With just 16 GPs to go before the 2006 regulations come into force, this doesn’t make any sense. Does it? Not until you consider the following:
ARTICLE 22: CHANGES FOR 2006
Clause 5.2 – Alternative engines
For 2006 and 2007 only, the FIA reserves the right to allow any team to use an engine complying with the 2005 engine regulations, provided its maximum crankshaft rotational speed does not exceed a limit fixed from time to time by the FIA so as to ensure that such an engine will only be used by a team which does not have access to a competitive 2.4 litre V8 engine.
Knowing Paul Stoddart, you can be sure that he had this in mind while giving the green signal to the PS05. So we could very well be watching his cars running on Cosworth TJ2005 engines next season. After all, what could be more ‘economical’ for Minardi than the existing chassis and engine!
Sadly though, Paul Stoddart’s relationship with the FIA and Max Mosley in particular isn’t really hunky dory. By dragging a domestic issue onto the streets and then the courtrooms of Australia, he has definitely rubbed the big guys the wrong way. Moreover, Clause 5.2 of Article 22 suggests, “FIA reserves the right to allow any team to use an engine complying with the 2005 engine regulations.”
Even if the FIA lets Minardi run its 2005 spec cars in order to avoid yet another public embarrassment, its authority to limit the engine revs as and when needed places Stoddart’s bearings firmly in its iron grip.
As of now, Paul Stoddart is one up on the FIA after his much-publicized legal victory. Come 2006, it would be very interesting to see how the ballsy Australian rebel takes on the establishment.