SEPTEMBER 30, 1996
Who pays the bills?
THE signing of Damon Hill by Tom Walkinshaw leaves one question unanswered - who is paying the bills? Having Hill in the team will inevitably attract a better package of sponsors for TWR Arrows, adding to Power Horse and Bridgestone. The team currently has neither a big oil deal nor major cigarette funding. We believe that talks are taking place between TWR and British American Tobacco with the aim of running the team in Gold Leaf colors - which Damon's father Graham Hill raced with in his Lotus days. BAT also controls the Embassy brand - which was the sponsor of the Hill F1 team in the mid-1970s. BAT's current policy is to expand into motor sport and Team Green in Indycar racing will benefit next year from a deal with BAT's Cool cigarette brand.
Tom may also be bidding for Marlboro money in the future. Marlboro - which recently split with McLaren - is the sponsor of Team Roberts in 500cc motorcycle racing and commercial logic would make a Marlboro-TWR-Yamaha deal a good bet. Flavio Briatore is currently in the process of trying to tie Honda down with a variety of links with Benetton - notably in 500cc motorcycle racing and in touring car racing in Italy.
Despite all this we believe that the short-term will bring a rather more obvious solution to TWR financing. We believe that a deal has already been struck with Brazilian Pedro Diniz - who brings $10m of Parmalat backing with him. Walkinshaw signed Diniz for Ligier last year - on a TWR contract - and we believe that this has been extended.
This is bad news for Flavio Briatore, who was hoping to use Diniz's money to pay for the $8m being demanded by Mugen Honda for the French team's supply of V10 engines for next year.
It is also bad news for current Arrows drivers Jos Verstappen and Ricardo Rosset who will have to look elsewhere in F1 for work next year.
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