DECEMBER 27, 2001
Frentzen and Arrows
AS we suggested a month ago Heinz-Harald Frentzen is to drive for Arrows in 2002, although the announcement is still not official at the moment. It is not expected to be announced by Arrows until the first week of January and could conceivably be delayed until January 14 when the future of Prost Grand Prix will be known for certain. The 34-year old German driver who was abruptly fired by Jordan in the middle of the 2001 season, has clinched a $700,000 one year deal to drive for the rival Arrows team next season.
Frentzen has accepted what is in formula one terms a modest fee from Arrows as he is currently in the throes of suing the Jordan squad for $4.8m which he claims is still owing for the balance of his contract with the Irish team when he was dismissed after a lackluster performance in the British grand prix.
His decision to commit to Arrows is being taken as bad news for Alain Prost's team which gave him a drive for the last five races of the past season. Frentzen was quite impressed with the handling of the Prost AP04 and had been holding off committing to Arrows even after the Prost team was put into receivership last month with debts in excess of $25m.
Prost has until January to finalize a rescue bid for his own team after which it faces the possibility of liquidation despite the fact that it has somewhat optimistically lodged an official entry in the 2002 world championship.
Frentzen, who has three grand prix victories to his credit in a career which has embraced 129 races since the start of 1994, is nevertheless clearly wary of committing to Arrows for more than a single season.
The team, headed by former racer Tom Walkinshaw, has yet to take delivery of the new Cosworth V10 engines, similar to those being used by Jaguar, which will replace the Asiatech-badged Peugeot engines in its cars for the coming season.
It has originally been intended that Walkinshaw would transfer ownership of the team's wind tunnel to Jaguar as part payment for the engines, but sources close to Jaguar hint that the team is having second thoughts about taking over the Arrows wind tunnel and, instead, want Walkinshaw to pay the full $22m lease fees to Cosworth for the use of the engines.
Arrows has a habit of announcing drivers and then changing them at the last minute so neither Jos Verstappen nor Enrique Bernoldi is going to be very comfortable until the team makes up its mind once and for all. That will almost certainly depend on money as this is usually the deciding factor with the team.
|Print News Story|