MARCH 16, 2002
What does it all mean?
COMPANIES HOUSE in London is the institution which registers all the details of British companies. If a company wants to make changes of any kind these must legally be registered with Companies House. Thus on Wednesday, Phoenix Finance Ltd. filed papers which changed the name of the company to D.A.R.T Grand Prix Team Ltd. The history of Phoenix was over after just 13 tumultuous days of existence.
Or was it?
Two days after the change of name was registered, Charles Nickerson, the managing-director of Phoenix Finance Ltd., issued a press statement in Malaysia (in the name of Phoenix Finance Ltd. but handed out by an Arrows staff member out of uniform) saying that Phoenix intended to overturn an FIA block on the team competing in this season's Formula 1 World Championship and "take up its rightful position on the starting grid as soon as possible".
Given the fact that Phoenix no longer existed, this was an odd statement to be making although it is possible that there was a shortage of notepaper for the new company and Kinko's Kuala Lumpur was not open.
The choice of the name D.A.R.T Grand Prix Team Ltd. was decidedly odd given the fact that Tom Walkinshaw (the owner of Arrows) used to run a company called D.A.R.T back in the early 1980s. Walkinshaw and Nickerson are old friends (and former racing team mates) but the boss of Arrows has been very careful throughout the last two weeks to point out that he is merely representing Phoenix and that he is not the force behind the project.
The choice of an old TWR company name for the firm's new title did not help matters.
Presumably there are people in legal circles who understand what is going on but in the F1 paddock in Malaysia the general consensus is that the whole business is completely out of control and it is portraying the sport in a less than flattering way. The F1 authorities and rival teams have all made the point that they feel that Phoenix has no valid arguments for being allowed to race but the organization does not seem to be capable of taking a hint and is rattling sabres (albeit in the wrong name).
Forgetting the issues of who owns what and when one document or another was signed, the cars, if they were ever allowed to race (and there are crash-test issues involved as well), would be unlikely to ever qualify as the performance of a cobbled-together 1998 engine package (which was not quick at the time) with a 2001 chassis (which never performed very well) and a gearbox of indeterminate age and provenance is hardly likely to have Ferrari, Williams and McLaren shaking in their boots, particularly as there is no sign of a tire deal either.
However, as D.A.R.T used to be a tire company, perhaps there are some old touring car tires from the early 1980s knocking around in a warehouse somewhere into which someone can cut a few grooves to make them look the part.
The professionals of modern Formula 1 racing can only gape in amazement at what is happening.
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