DECEMBER 28, 2001
Frentzen continues to deny a deal
HEINZ-HARALD FRENTZEN says that he has not signed any deal with Arrows - although he has admitted talking in depth to the team about a deal. Our sources within arrows continue to insist that a deal has been struck and that if it has not yet been fully inked it is in the pipeline. Frentzen is probably being forced to continue his denials because of a commitment to Prost Grand Prix - if the French team can meet certain criteria by a certain date. This is very unlikely to happen with all the signs being that the French operation will close down completely after a court deadline in mid-January.
Things are somewhat complicated by the fact that Frentzen is in legal action with the Jordan team over his firing in the summer. The German has taken legal action against the Silverstone team and his claims will be altered by the amount of money he earns in 2002. This is good news for Arrows as if Frentzen can get Jordan to pay the Leafield team will be able to sign Frentzen at a fraction of his worth. It is in Frentzen's interest to do that because without an offer from Arrows there is not much for him to do, except to sign up with Minardi. It is unlikely that a driver of his calibre will be left out of the line-up in 2002 but obviously the situation needs delicate handling at the moment.
Arrows has already announced a deal with Jos Verstappen and appears to be tied to Enrique Bernoldi because of his links with the team's sponsor Red Bull. Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw may wait until he has Frentzen under contract and then try to convince Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz that the best driver line-up is Frentzen-Verstappen. This would be the best line-up for the team and Walkinshaw is never one to take the easy route out. The team however needs more money and so if Mateschitz sticks by Bernoldi Walkinshaw would have to dump Verstappen. The Dutchman is believed to have planned for such an eventuality and is understood to be talking to Minardi - just in case.
Drivers cannot be overly confident when dealing with Arrows as recent seasons have seen a number of last-minute changes in the driver line-up. In 1999 Mika Salo was elbowed out of the way to make way for Tora Takagi and at the end of 2000 Pedro de la Rosa found himself out of work after a late decision by the team to sign Enrique Bernoldi.
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