MARCH 15, 2002
PHOENIX FINANCE LTD. issued a press release in Malaysia suggesting that the company is going to be taking legal action against the FIA in an effort to take the place its claims on the Formula 1 grid. The press release was distributed by Arrows representative Helen Shergold, who changed shirts shortly before starting to hand out the statements, adding to the general belief in F1 circles that Tom Walkinshaw is playing a rather more important role in the whole business than he has previously suggested. This is rather confusing as Arrows is at a critical time in its development, carrying huge debts, and would probably benefit from rather more input from Walkinshaw.
The team attached a statement (in English) from Cosme Rogeau, the liquidator (dated February 28) addressed to FIA President Max Mosley suggesting that the benefits to the Concorde Agreement were being transferred to Phoenix Finance Ltd. The odd thing about this is that five days later Mosley told The Times newspaper that "we are waiting for an official communication from the purchasers of the Prost assets but they do appear to have major difficulties if they want to join the grid."
What happened to the letter from Phoenix to Mosley is not clear. The liquidator was sufficiently worried however to issue two press releases during the Melbourne weekend giving more details of what happened but at no point did he specifically mention the "benefits" of Prost Grand Prix. If the letter revealed in Malaysia had been issued in Melbourne there might not have been a problem with the FIA and it is odd that this did not happen.
The FIA issued a statement on March 12 indicating that having examined the judgement of the court of Versailles the FIA decided that the court had not transferred the Prost entry to Phoenix.
It seems that the whole sorry business is going to end up in court as a deep embarrassment to the sport as a whole.
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