MAY 24, 2002
Sponsorship rumors in Monaco
THE latest whispers in the Formula 1 paddock is that Orange may be planning a major presence in the World Rally Championship next year rather than continuing to support the Arrows F1 team. The three-year Arrows deal is up for renegotiation at the moment and Arrows is doing everything it can to try and convince the French-owned company to stay in F1. Orange has yet to make up its mind. There have been a lot of different rumors in recent months including that the company would switch to Renault Sport, to mount more of a challenge to rival Vodafone. There has been talk that Orange might simply concentrate on trackside signage and race sponsorships but now it seems there is a strong possibility that the company may simply decide to move out of F1 and join forces with the Citroen World Rally Championship team.
The next few weeks will be crucial and Arrows is desperate to make a good impression at Monaco to follow up the recent success of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in Spain.
The other sponsorship rumor doing the rounds in Monaco was that Renault is bidding for Jordan's Deutsche Post budget. In Monaco Eddie Jordan was playing down the financial crisis in F1 which he was promoting a few races ago but we understand that he was not happy at the recent team managers' meeting in Austria where he told his rivals that he knew one of them was trying to get the Deutsche Post deal away from him.
But while this unseemly squabbling is going on, there is also potentially good news as there were a number of big corporations which sent executives to Monaco to have a look at the sport. We understand that one of them was the US giant Citibank.
There was also talk that Toyota North America may be looking at establishing its own F1 team if the Grand Prix teams agree to change the rules to allow the big teams to sell chassis to the smaller operations.
In the finest traditions of the sport, however, it is hard to say what is true and what is not true at the moment.
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