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A dilemma at Arrows

Money can buy you many things in the hyper-competitive world of Formula 1 racing, but it cannot buy you job security. Japanese driver Takachiho Inoue discovered this last week when the Arrows team decided to put a couple of other drivers into his car to see how they went.

The Arrows number one driver Gianni Morbidelli last week lapped Silverstone in 1m32.578s while Inoue could do no better than a 1m36.104s. Portugal's Pedro Lamy and Italy's Max Papis were both quicker than the Japanese journeyman, Lamy recording a best of 1m32.968s after 47 laps and Papis lapping in 1m35.932s after just seven laps.

Inoue's performances in Brazil and Argentina have also been disappointing with Morbidelli outqualifying him by 2.75s in Brazil and running a lot faster in both races.

The Japanese driver's poor showing has led to tension inside the Arrows team with the engineers arguing that their efforts are being wasted because only Morbidelli is using the machinery to its maximum. The management argue that without money the team cannot do anything. The decision to run Lamy and Papis - both of whom have some sponsorship money available - indicates that the team is considering replacing the richer, but slower, Inoue.

The engineers are also pushing hard for a change because the opportunity to score World Championship points is greatest at the start of the year when the top teams are still to develop their cars fully. As they improve, Arrows's hopes of collecting points will fade as the team will not be able to keep up with the development pace unless they have more money available.

The engineers have a strong argument because, ultimately, a team succeeds or fails depending on the quality of its machinery. If the engineers desert Arrows for jobs elsewhere, the team will suffer. In all probability, therefore, there will be some kind of compromise with Inoue standing down (and being refunded his money) and another quicker pay-driver being brought in. This is not likely to be Papis because he is too large to fit into the chassis. Lamy must, therefore, be a good bet although he is still being tipped as a possible Forti driver. Forti, however, does not have a competitive car and no amount of money is going to improve the current chassis enough. Lamy is also in contact with Sauber, which may have to replace Karl Wendlinger unless the Austrian's performances improve.

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