MARCH 5, 2002
Phoenix and Skoda
THE business with the Phoenix Finance company trying to buy assets of the Prost Grand Prix team generated a vast number of daft stories about who might be behind the idea. Our sources say that the man behind the idea was none other than Tom Walkinshaw and the whole thing was dreamed up between him and his pal Charles Nickerson (aka Chuck Nicholson, Walkinshaw's former co-driver in the European Touring Car Championship in the early 1980s.
Walkinshaw may still be trying to make the deal happen but all the indications now are that this is not going to be a success unless Phoenix is willing to pay the FIA a deposit of $48m to secure the 12th slot in F1. The team could then enter F1 next year as a new team. This is not thought very likely to happen as neither Walkinshaw nor Nicholson is believed to have the sort of money which would be needed.
Among the mad rumors that were circulating was one suggesting that Skoda, the Volkswagen-owned Czech car company was behind the plan. This seems to be rather wide of the mark and VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder has again denied any interest from VW in F1 - at least for a few years to come.
Pischetsrieder was quoted in some stories saying that he would love to own an F1 team but our sources say that he was talking personally rather than from a company point of view.
Pischetsrieder is a friend of Bernie Ecclestone from many years back but he is believed to have told the F1 supremo that Volkswagen has no plans in the short term for any involvement in Formula 1.
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