OCTOBER 9, 2001
Walkinshaw denies Red Bull buy-out
Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw has flatly denied the claims of Red Bull boss Dieter Mateschitz made to a magazine in his native Austria to have bought into Arrows.
"Red Bull has never had an option to buy Arrows and this latest story is a re-hash of old speculation," said the Scot.
Nevertheless, Walkinshaw is currently engaged in a legal suit against his current partners Morgan Grenfell, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, for a sum in the region of $16 million in unpaid sponsorship funds from Eurobet, Morgan Grenfell's online betting interest.
It is believed that a split with the financial house is imminent and, that being the case, a new backer must be found to help out with the rumored $21 million cost of the engine supply from Ford for next season, and Red Bull is the obvious candidate.
The soft drink giant took an interest in Arrows at the start of this year when Sauber, in which Red Bull has a considerable stake, refused to take Mateschitz's favored driver Enrique Bernoldi instead of gambling on the raw speed of Kimi Raikkonen.
Although Sauber has been proved right in this instance, Mateschitz hedged his bets and ploughed funds into Arrows in return for Bernoldi's drive - a fairly pedestrian rookie season in comparison with that of Raikkonen - and rumors of a more concrete interest between the two parties have long been circulating.
Despite Sauber's rise to fourth place in the constructors' championship this year, Mateschitz clearly wants to take a more hands-on approach, and although he has denied an end to his involvement in Sauber has suggested that it is time for a reappraisal after seven seasons with the Swiss team.
If Morgan Grenfell does depart Arrows there will be almost half of Arrows up for sale, and a US-liveried car is believed to have been on the drawing board at Walkinshaw's Leafield base since early in the year.