Former Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart believes Formula 1's budget cap would have helped the outfit provide a 'hungry' Jos Verstappen with a competitive opportunity.
Stoddart was at the helm for Minardi's final years in F1, with the team hitting financial trouble on numerous occasions and proving largely uncompetitive, though the Australian saved the outfit before selling to Red Bull. The squad went on to become Toro Rosso.
He was a leading voice calling for a budget cap in the sport during the 2000s, with manufacturers throwing extortionate amounts of money at creating race-winning machinery, leaving the Minardi team with little chance of scoring consistent points.
The financial constraints were finally passed as regulations for the 2021 season to restrict competitors to a set spending limit, though caveats mean areas such as the top three earners in a team do not contribute to regulated expenditure.
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Any midfield team can 'get lucky'
Red Bull have dominated the opening three races of 2023 but the battle behind has been intensely fought, with Ferrari, Aston Martin and Mercedes all fighting for the best-of-the-rest tag. The midfield is also extremely tight with the pecking order constantly evolving.
Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Stoddart explained: "Forget about Max [Verstappen] and Sergio [Perez] – when he's up there – they are in a league of their own, but go from third to about eighth... a second in it. On a good day, there's really [only] six-tenths in it.
"On a good day, any of the teams that are in the midfield can just have a lucky day and be in the points, and well into the points.
"We're seeing the budget cap come into play. I'm not saying I agree with all of that. I certainly don't agree that things like commercials should be included in it, which can sometimes preclude the sport being promoted.
"[A team] like Red Bull, who had the budget to promote the hell out of it, are finding themselves constrained. But the reality is, on the racing side, we're seeing all these teams are close, there's not a two-and-a-half-second gap. There's not a three-second gap."
Jos still had what it took, he still had the hunger.
Stoddart on Verstappen
Two-time champion Verstappen's father Jos spent his final year in F1 at Minardi, though was able to secure a best finish of only ninth which, at the time, was one position outside the points.
Detailing where the budget cap could have changed the script, Stoddart said: "Jos still had what it took, he still had the hunger.
"We couldn't, unfortunately, give him the right car, we just didn't have the money. But that's where your budget caps would have come into play, because we would have been much more able to spend the money on the car because in those days, we had to fund it all from sponsorship.
"So you were out there all the time getting sponsors.
"That driver matching, Justin Wilson and Jos, was pretty good. Justin was up and coming, had a brilliant future. It was so sad what happened [referring to Wilson's death in an IndyCar race at Pocono in 2015].
"Jos... people still say 'Jos only drove for Minardi because it was the end of his career' – not true. He drove because he wanted to drive, he drove because he was passionate and had the fire in his belly to keep driving and he did."
Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the last week in F1.