Jordan boss committed to Formula One racing
Midlands acquisition of Jordan has been one of the mysteries of the 2005 season. The teams progress has been slow to say the least, prompting speculation that their new owners may not be in for the long haul. We spoke to Alex Shnaider, Midlands co-owner and Chairman, who explained why his company got involved in the sport in the first place - and why he has no thoughts of leaving...
Q: Why did Midland invest in Formula One racing?
Alex Shnaider: Because we believe in the sport, because we are fans, and because we are convinced that the whole concept of Formula One will change dramatically by 2008. The budget gap between manufacturer and private teams will decrease - that will enhance the chances of the smaller teams becoming more competitive.
Q: What about the rumours of you wanting to sell the team?
AS: I am not actively looking for a buyer and there are no serious offers on the table. We just had a request from a potential Russian sponsor about the possibility to acquire shares of the team. We would have sold shares to this interested party if, as a result, a long-term commitment as a title sponsor would have evolved. In that case we would have sold these shares at the same price as we had acquired them, as we do not see the team as a profit centre Midland has to draw profits from. The misconception that started all the rumours about Midland wanting to ditch the team obviously started with my statement that everything is for sale. And I stand by that - if someone offers the right amount, then I am sure he can buy almost anything in the paddock and the pit lane. But it never meant that I ever had intentions to sell the team.
Q: Making money from the team was never on your mind?
AS: If it was on my mind then it was a secondary objective. From 2008 on Formula One will be different and will surely turn for the better. True, nobody can say exactly how it will be but one thing is for sure - there are only 10 teams in Formula One and the value of every single team will increase with a change in the allotment of revenues.
Q: Do you currently have to invest your own money in the team?
AS: Unfortunately, yes - on a scale that a board would have ousted me if Midland were a public company.
Q: Is the current investment enough to push the team forward?
AS: Midland is willing to annually invest a certain amount - approximately the amount we will have invested by the end of this year. The investments are distributed to several scopes: we had to cover the liabilities of the previous years; we have the budget for the ongoing season; and the investments for the development of the new car. All these tasks are sufficiently financed, with a clear emphasis on 2006, as it represents the future - the team will present itself completely anew - we will have a new car and a new infrastructure in the paddock.
Q: Nevertheless, the rumours persist about unpaid bills and other financial shortages...
AS: The only bills that have not been paid are those inflated ones. Obviously some tried to take advantage of the new management. We will not allow that. We are not willing to pay inflated or otherwise manipulated bills. But that is normal. No responsible company would act differently.
Q: So Midland will not invest more money next year than it did this year - how will this influence the team's ability to progress technically?
AS: We will re-structure some aspects and hope to open up new sources of revenue. Naturally we will seek sponsors - existing ones and new ones. We are not talking to the backer of Eddie Irvine, but are in negotiations with other interested parties.
Q: Will you still be looking for drivers who bring money to the team?
AS: Yes, if the drivers are good.
Q: How satisfied are you so far with your career as a team owner?
AS: I agreed to how it worked so far. But naturally I cannot be satisfied. One always wants that things move better and more successfully. But I do understand that we are in a transition time as the purchase of Jordan came somewhat ad hoc and we abandoned our initial plan to build a team from scratch. I am satisfied with the people - at least most of them - and the course weve set.
Q: If the search for sponsors fails and you have to invest your personal fortune to keep the team running, could it be that you lose interest?
AS: No, definitely not. There is always a next season. And as Formula One is an emotional thing I would stick with it - unless I lose my temper. But this will sure not happen before 2008 when bigger chances loom for privateer teams. I will definitely be a team owner until then.