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News in brief from Melbourne 05 Mar 2004

Eddie Jordan (IRE) Jordan Team Owner.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Bas Leinders (BEL) Minardi Test Driver.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 4 March 2004 Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 5 March 2004 Paul Stoddart (AUS) Minardi Team Owner at the launch of the Minardi PS04B.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004

Economic boost for Formula One, Leinders homeward bound and calls for less testing and more racing.

More money comes into the sport
Eddie Jordan believes he has had more interest in his Formula One team in the last three months than in the previous three years, and further indications of the sport’s continuing economic growth have been evidenced by new deals.

Having supported Jordan in 2003, Shanghai International Circuit and China Central Television are now supporting Williams. In their place, Jordan has signed a deal to promote and develop the B&Q brand in China. The British home improvement company is keen to expand in the lucrative Chinese market.

Leinders update
Minardi third driver Bas Leinders, who was not allowed to run on Friday in Melbourne since the rules governing such days have been changed to include a requirement for drivers to hold superlicences, has returned to Europe and will complete the necessary distance, under observation, in order to secure the licence. Minardi owner Paul Stoddart hopes that the Belgian will be able to resume his intended duties in Malaysia.

Ecclestone wants 20 races and reduced testing
Bernie Ecclestone has renewed his call for 20 Grands Prix, and less testing. "That's all that makes sense," the commercial rights holder said. "Our business is racing, not testing, and 20 is a nice round number."

Renault chief Flavio Briatore would seem to agree. "I was very happy testing only on Fridays last year, but some people in Formula One love spending money, and that's the way it is,” said the Italian. “Our business is racing, not testing. Some teams last year covered 20,000 km racing and 40,000 testing. That's ridiculous, when we could easily save 50% on our costs by reducing testing."

Stoddart and Jordan cry foul
Private entrants Paul Stoddart and Eddie Jordan claim that teams which agreed to help them acquire their 2004 engines for 10 million Euros, have reneged on their agreements. "Promises were made for this and to my knowledge they have not been honoured," Jordan said. "But this is a private matter, not a witch hunt. My obligation is to resolve this internal matter with the other teams and manufacturers, but at this time there doesn't seem to be a solution."