Red Bull, Irvine and Minardi

UPDATE #9 This rumor is now 'fact' with today's announcement that Minardi was sold to Red Bull. See Hot News page. 09/10/05 Sunday at Spa, September the eleventh, could well be the day when Paul Stoddart reveals that his Minardi F1 team has been sold to Red Bull. According to solid speculation in Belgium, the deal was done on Friday afternoon, even though the rumor mill's 6pm official buyout announcement never occurred.

It is now reported that Dietrich Mateschitz – not a regular in the Paddock – and right-hand-man Dany Bahar, will arrive at Spa Francorchamps on Saturday evening, possibly to let the cat out of the bag sometime Sunday.

Stoddart admitted that some sort of announcement 'could be' made in the Belgian Ardennes, ''but my gut feeling is (that it's more likely) closer to Brazil,'' he told the Autosport website. ''I would miss it unbelievably … but the team is more important than any individual,'' the Australian added.

09/09/05 Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has confirmed that negotiations with energy drink and existing formula one team owner Red Bull have taken place. But the Australian businessman warned that a deal might simply involve Red Bull buying a couple of 2006 race seats for Vitantonio Liuzzi and perhaps Scott Speed.

Speculation is adamant that an agreement to sell the back of the grid team is already signed, giving exclusive negotiations to Red Bull pending due diligence enquiries. It evidently expires on Saturday. 'Until it is reality,'' Red Bull sporting director Christian Horner remarked at Spa Francorchamps, ''it is not worth me speaking about it.''

Similarly, Stoddart refused to go much further into detail about a deal that could result in Red Bull buying Minardi and re-branding the team 'Red Bull USA'. He insisted: ''Where they are now is for them to say. They had a look at things during the (Italian grand prix) weekend but I cannot speculate on what they might do.''

09/08/05 Minardi boss Paul Stoddart confirmed here Thursday that he is in negotiations with Red Bull over a possible buy-out of the Formula One backmarker team. "I had a positive talk with Red Bull last weekend, they have had a chance to look at things throughout the week and where they are now is really for them to say," he said. "There simply is nothing and I cannot speculate on what they might or might not do, but with it being Red Bull you wouldn't want to write them off because we are not talking about a total and utter timewaster.

"We all know the reputation of Red Bull and it is a proper company, so you are not going to treat them the way you would someone who you didn't know who called you out the blue and said they have a bucket load of money.

"Can (Red Bull boss) Dietrich Mateschitz do this deal if there is a deal and he wants to do it? Unequivocally yes. Does he want to do it? You have to ask him. The talk last weekend centered as much around drivers as it did around the team, and I have not seen any deals on the table at all, not from anyone, to even consider yet."

09/06/05 Red Bull might already have bought a controlling stake in Paul Stoddart's hard-up Minardi team.

According to speculation, the deal – to re-brand the Faenza based team 'Red Bull USA' and use it to place drivers like Tonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed and Neel Jani from next year – could be revealed at Spa on Friday.

Australian entrepreneur Stoddart called Dieter Mateschitz and his energy drink brand 'the kind of people' he would talk to about selling his struggling team.

'Red Bull USA' would become a junior team, to house young leadership and up and coming drivers. It would run this year's RB1 car, and – crucially – give Bernie Ecclestone another political ally in his quest for F1 control.

However, it has been claimed that the Red Bull-Minardi rumor came about after Mateschitz and Stoddart negotiated for a simple 'driver placement' deal for 2006.

Sources, though, insist that Red Bull is doing due diligence this week, and – if given the financial all clear – will honor some sort of document that was signed at Monza.

09/05/05 Red Bull are expected to confirm in Belgium that they have bought the Minardi team from Paul Stoddart. The company's founder, Dietrich Mateschitz, will set up a junior team so he can accommodate all four drivers he currently has at Formula One level.

But the Austrian is under increasing pressure over his insistence on retaining his fellow countryman Christian Klien, who will again race in Belgium, as David Coulthard's partner in the existing team, which will use Ferrari engines next year. The former karting world champion Tonio Liuzzi is thus likely to have to drive an updated 2005 Red Bull alongside rising American talent Scott Speed in the junior team next year, instead of partnering Coulthard as expected.

"A lot of people inside and outside the team are struggling to understand why he [Mateschitz] seems so desperate to bow to pressure from the Austrian media," one insider said at Monza. "It's as if he is scared of standing up to them. Within the team Klien has some support, but a lot of people think he has gone as far as he is likely to."

While Red Bull do not appear to appreciate what they have, BMW are known to be interested in partnering Liuzzi with Heidfeld in 2006 when they convert Peter Sauber's private team into their official works enterprise. The Independent

09/05/05 Red Bull will decide by next weekend about whether to buy a controlling interest in Minardi after agreeing an option with the team at Monza, Autosport-Atlas has learned.

Sources claim that Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has agreed a preliminary deal with the energy drinks company that could lead to a takeover of the team by the start of next season.

The option signed by Red Bull gives them until the Belgian Grand Prix to examine the Faenza team's financial situation in more detail before deciding whether to definitely go ahead with the plan.

The agreement also includes a clause that prevents the Italian outfit from continuing negotiations with any other interested party until Red Bull have made a final decision. More at Autosport-Atlas

09/03/05 Amid speculation that Red Bull has joined the race to buy Minardi, it has emerged that another interested party – ex-F1 racer Eddie Irvine – actually visited Faenza last week.

The Ulsterman, fronting the bid of a Russian investor, is also at Monza to continue talks. His backer, Roustam Tariko, met Stoddart in Turkey.

''We are talking to Irvine, we don't deny that,'' current Minardi owner Paul Stoddart insisted.

What is definitely new, though, is very strong talk that Red Bull – who recently bought the Jaguar team from Ford – might want to buy Minardi to set up a junior F1 team to be called 'Red Bull USA'.

Stoddart said: ''At the moment the story doesn't have any legs, although that is not to say it won't have in the future.'' Sources say the Irvine bid is more likely to meet Stoddart's approval, because it involves leaving the Australian entrepreneur with a job.

09/02/05 Questioned on the prospects of a Red Bull/Minardi deal, RBR sporting director Christian Horner would say only: “I wouldn’t read too much into paddock gossip." Minardi boss Paul Stoddart confirmed here Friday that he has been in talks with Eddie Irvine and the former Ferrari driver's Russian backer over a possible takeover of the team.

Stoddart has been inundated with offers for the back-of-the-grid outfit but admitted that Irvine's bid is one of three serious ones currently under consideration.

"I have always said I am prepared to sell and step aside for anyone who can prove they can do a better job for the team than I can," Stoddart said. "So far that has not happened. I have had 41 offers altogether, some of them not too serious and some of them time-wasters and sooner or later something could happen. It's that time of year isn't it? All of the interest in Minardi has come in the last few months really. It's been an avalanche of interest and quite amazing really."

In other words, Stoddart is bidding up the price for his team by making it look like multiple companies are interested in his backmarker team. 09/02/05 Monza's paddock roared on Friday — with speculation that Red Bull is poised to buy Minardi from current owner Paul Stoddart. Word has it that the Faenza based team will become 'Red Bull USA'.

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