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Midland slam speculation about team's F1 future

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Apr 14 (Reuters) The struggling Midland Formula One team has slammed speculation about its future, insisting that they are not for sale and Colin Kolles is staying in charge.

''Over the past week there have been a number of speculative rumours published in the media, none of which has any basis in fact,'' the Russian-licensed team said in a statement ''to re-assure stakeholders''.

''MF1 has adequate budget to take an active and competitive part in the championship this season and we are working hard to close the gap between ourselves and our competitors,'' the statement added.

''Midland Group, our parent organisation, has confirmed that the team is not for sale and there are no proposals that this should change.'' Midland said there had been various approaches, with 22 contenders applying for just 12 slots in the 2008 championship when the entry deadline expired last month, but all had been rejected.

Midland Group, owned by Russian-born Canadian billionaire Alex Shnaider, bought the failing Jordan team at the start of last year and renamed it for 2006.

They have yet to score a point this year and sporting director Adrian Burgess left last week in what the team called 'planned restructuring'.

Britain's Autosport magazine reported this week that negotiations to sell the team to Russian vodka and banking magnate Roustam Tariko were on again after preliminary talks at last year's Monaco Grand Prix.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper also suggested that Midland were in the grip of a cash crisis and Romanian-born Kolles had held emergency talks with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone last week.

It added that morale was at an all-time low.

Midland rejected such speculation.

''We wish it to be known that these (staff) changes occurred precisely because of the team's faith in the capabilities and loyalty of our people...since the acquisition of Jordan some 15 months ago, the new owners have been impressed by the racing tradition embodied by the staff.'' Kolles, a qualified dentist, added that he was more determined than ever to drive the team forward.

''To my detractors and those speculating about my 'imminent departure', I regret to say that I have been and remain too busy focusing on the interests of the team to consider any alternatives to my current position.'' Reuters PDS BST1803

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