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Honda website

DECEMBER 2, 2002

The story of Arrows

The Arrows Formula 1 team was born in controversy and legal action and looks like going out of the sport in the same way. The team was established in November 1977 by a breakaway group of personnel from Don Nichols's Shadow F1 team and some of their associates. They combined their names to create the team's title: Italian financier Franco Ambrosio (A), Alan Rees (R), Jackie Oliver (O), Dave Wass (W) and Tony Southgate (S).

The team set up in headquarters at Milton Keynes and built the first Arrows F1 car in just 53 days. The FA/1 was a straight copy of the Shadow DN9. Arrows signed up Riccardo Patrese and Varig sponsorship was found for the car in Brazil in 1978 where it finished eighth. Rolf Stommelen joined the team in South Africa, bringing Warsteiner beer money. Patrese led that race until his engine blew but he went on to score Arrows's first points at Long Beach in the third race of the year.

Ambrosio soon disappeared from the team, being jailed for financial irregularities in Italy. But there was even bigger trouble when Don Nichols decided to sue for copyright infringement. While the case was going on Patrese finished second at the Swedish GP.

The Arrows team, knowing that it would lose the case and not be able to race the FA/1 decided to build a new car, called the A1 and this was completed in 52 days and appeared the day after the High Court in London banned the team from racing the FA/1. The judge made some less than complimentary remarks about the team management but they went on anyway and Arrows finished its first year in F1 in ninth place in the constructors' championship. The Warsteiner sponsorship continued in 1979 with Patrese being joined by Jochen Mass. Wass and Soutgate revised the A1 but it was not very competitive and was replaced in June by the bullet-nosed A2. The 1980s was a story of occasional moments of glory, such as Patrese's pole position at Long Beach in 1981 but also the beginning of the break-up of the original team members with the departure of Southgate. At the end of 1981 Patrese went off to Brabham and the driver line-up became Marc Surer and Mauro Baldi. Wass designed the A4 this was a disappointment and a new A5 appeared in August. The A6 was better but money was short although the arrival of Thierry Boutsen with sponsorship set the team moving in the right direction again. The team managed to do a deal for BMW turbo engines in 1984 and backing from cigarette company Barclay. Surer and Boutsen remained the drivers and the Wass-designed A7 enabled Boutsen to score five points.

The BMW influence was seen more in 1985 with Surer being replaced by Austrian Gerhard Berger. Barclay remained the sponsor and Wass's A8 was good enough to collect 14 points, including a second place for Boutsen at Imola. At the end of the year Berger moved on to Benetton and Boutsen was rejoined by Surer. The team landed backing from American firm USF&G and retained Barclay but the new season had to begin with revised A8 chassis. The A9 appeared in the midseason and was a disaster and Wass left the team. At the end of the year Ross Brawn and seven of the design team from FORCE were recruited and work began on the new A10 to be powered by a Megatron engine, USF&G having bought the rights to the BMW engine. The A10 scored 11 points to give the team sixth place in the Constructors' Championship and as money was short the same package was retained in 1988 with the A10B collecting even more points. Derek Warwick finished seventh in the World Championship and Arrows was fourth in the Constructors' title.

For the new normally-aspirated formula in 1989 the team used Cosworth V8s in the back of Brawn's A11. Warwick, Eddie Cheever and USF&G remained and the team finished seventh in the Constructors' Championship. At the end of the year however Brawn, Warwick and Cheever all departed and the team was sold to Wataru Ohashi's Footwork corporation. Jack Oliver and Alan Rees remained in management roles but the A11B, a revamp of the previous's year's car was not a success. Footwork money however enabled the team to do a deal with Porsche for V12 engines in 1991 and Alan Jenkins agreed to join the team as technical director.

It all looked good but in the end went horribly wrong. The Porsche engines were not good enough and the prototype FA12 (the FA was for Footwork Arrows) appeared but was immediately destroyed when its suspension failed in Tamburello Corner at Imola. Michele Alboreto suffered a broken foot. In June, in desperation, the team split with Porsche and did a deal to run Brian Hart-prepared Cosworth DFR engines. Having failed to score points for a year the team was forced to pre-qualify and appeared only rarely in the second part of the year.

Despite the problems the team opened a 40% windtunnel at Milton Keynes, paid for by Footwork.

The following year the team enjoyed a revival with Mugen V10 engines and driver Aguri Suzuki alongside Alboreto. The FA13 was a sensible car and the team finished seventh in the Constructors' Championship.

The 1993 package was a disappointment and Footwork ran into financial trouble and pulled out of F1, leaving the team back in the hands of Oliver and Rees. The team lost its Mugen engines and had to settle for Ford V8s in 1994. Jenkins designed the FA15 for young drivers Gianni Morbidelli and Christian Fittipaldi and although money was short, good reliability resulted in several points finishes.

With an increasingly difficult financial situation the team picked pay-driver Taki Inoue to partner Morbidelli in the Jenkins-designed Arrows-Hart FA16 in 1995, although the latter was later dropped to make way for Max Papis. The team struggled on into 1996 when Oliver bought out Rees and then gave 51% of the team to Walkinshaw in exchange for the Scotsman assuming all the liabilities. Part of the deal was that the team would assume no more debt.

Walkinshaw had big plans for 1997 and signed up World Champion Damon Hill and wealthy Brazilian Pedro Diniz to help pay for Hill. The team announced a Yamaha engine deal and Bridgestone tyres and Danka became the team's title sponsor.

Jenkins departed and Frank Dernie, who arrived with Walkinshaw from Ligier, took over as technical director. The Arrows-Yamaha A18 was not very competitive although thanks to Bridgestone tyres and an improving Yamaha engine Hill was able to dominate the Hungarian GP before mechanical gremlins slowed him in the final laps and he finished second.

In the mid-season Walkinshaw hired John Barnard and the team recruited a completly new engineering staff. In order to pay all the bills the board agreed that the team could borrow money - despite the agreement with Oliver. This meant that he found himself liable for debt again.

In order to save money in 1998 Walkinshaw bought control of Brian Hart Ltd and began to produce his own Arrows F1 engines. This produced few results and by the end of 1999 the team was in trouble again. Walkinshaw brought in new backing from Prince Malik ado Ibrahim and the investment bank Morgan Grenfell Private Equity and formed a new holding company while Oliver remained a shareholder until the end of the year when worried by mounting debts he sold out to Walkinshaw for just $1.5m. A few days later Walkinshaw landed backing from Orange and a deal was struck to run Supertec engines in 2000. The package looked good and Verstappen and Pedro de la Rosa scored seven points between them. But money was soon a problem again and in 2001 the team took the disastrous decision to switch to a free supply of Asiatech engines. Performance tailed off. This forced the team to decide to risk everything in 2002 and sign a deal with Cosworth. The car performed well on occasion but the money ran out and the current problems began.