JULY 8, 2002

Minardi and Brendan of Arabia

BRENDAN MCGUINNESS, a representative of the Saudi Arabian investor Prince Al-Waleed's Kingdom Holding company spent the British Grand Prix weekend as a guest of the Minardi team, a situation which led to speculation that the fabulously wealthy Al-Waleed might be interested in buying into the struggling Anglo-Italian team.

It is no secret that Minardi is looking for either a strategic investor or a car manufacturer to help secure the long-term future of the team and now is good moment for anyone with money to buy into the sport as prices are low.

Al Waleed was a Williams sponsor back in the early 1980s when the team was backed by TAG's Mansour Ojjeh but McGuinness was seen at Monza last year in the company of Al Waleed's son Prince Khalid bin al Waleed. That visit was intended for the prince to take a close look at the Prost team and we hear that a loan of something like $10m was made to Prost as a result of that contact. If there were plans for further F1 expansion by the Prince they failed when Prost went to the wall.

Al-Waleed's interest in F1 is believed to be linked to plans to hold a Grand Prix somewhere in the Arab world in 2004. The country most likely to win a GP contract would seem to be Bahrain.