SEPTEMBER 13, 1999
Who goes to Arrows?
TOM WALKINSHAW was planning to make an announcement about the future of Arrows on Sunday at Monza but the press briefing was called off at the last minute with the suggestion being that a bigger announcement will now be made at the European Grand Prix meeting at the Nurburgring in two weeks. This is expected to reveal a new ownership structure of the team and possibly the team's engine plans for the long-term future. There is little doubt that Prince Malik ado Ibrahim will no longer be involved but the investment banking group Morgan Grenfell will retain its 40% share - although we have heard stories suggesting that this might be sold to the Renault-Nissan group. This would make Morgan Grenfell a quick profit on the deal that was agreed in December last year.
In all probability Walkinshaw will buy Malik's 20% shareholding and will thus control 60% of the team. There is a possibility of another smaller investor but it is more likely that Walkinshaw will up his share while the price is still low.
What is interesting will be the team's driver line-up in 2000. Although the expected Nissan engine deal is not going to happen until 2001, the prospects of the deal could work in Olivier Panis's favor. Renault is expected to have some say in at least one of the drivers and Panis is the obvious choice. He is French, he has won a Grand Prix and he has a great deal of useful experience. He has also worked with Walkinshaw before when Tom was running Ligier. Another name which is being mentioned is that of Dutchman Jos Verstappen. He is understood to have some financial support available from Phillips╩Electronics╩NV, the giant consumer electronics company. This firm has been involved on and off in F1 in recent years but we hear that a new management wants to up the company's involvement in Grand Prix racing. We hear that $12m is on offer but that this goes up if Verstappen is part of the deal. The deal might also be linked to a possible Dutch Grand Prix. We have heard of several teams which have pitched Phillips for the sponsorship but the only one with a seat available is Arrows.
Both Tora Takagi and Pedro de la Rosa apparently want to stay with the Arrows team next year and both have money available which will be useful for Arrows if a big sponsor cannot be found.
It is worth noting that nothing is yet decided and we hear that Olivier's manager - Keke Rosberg - is talking to CART boss Pat Patrick about a possible deal in America. Patrick was in the paddock at Monza rather than at the CART race in Laguna Seca. He currently employs Adrian Fernandez and Jan Magnussen, having replaced PJ Jones earlier in the year. Jones returned to the team recently when Fernandez broke his arm.
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