JULY 30, 2002

The sale of Arrows

It now seems to be inevitable that the Arrows team will survive its current financial and legal problems - which is good news for the staff at Leafield - but it is not clear whether the team will still be headed by Tom Walkinshaw. Our sources say that both Walkinshaw and merchant bankers Morgan Grenfell will be bought out of the operation and a new management will be put in place. The big question is who the buyer will be.

The Hockenheim paddock was full of rumors that Craig Pollock will be the man in the spotlight. This is probably because one evening Walkinshaw and Pollock were spotted having dinner together at a hotel where many of the teams stay. This was not very subtle but it may not be the whole story.

Pollock is rumored to have backing from a new North American investor but no-one knows who this will be. Unreliable sources have suggested the name Edgar Bronfman Jr., who runs the Seagram drinks empire, but Pollock says that there is no connection with him. This does not, of course, stop the ill-informed from writing stories.

Pollock may not be the only bidder as there are several groups of people lurking in the darker corners of the paddock, trying to buy teams. One of these is supposed to be the Saudi Arabian investor Prince Khaled Al-Waleed but stories that the Prince would show up in Germany proved to be wide of the mark and his representative needs to prove that he is serious if he wants the F1 team bosses to listen any more.

We also spotted another group of investors at the weekend but there is little to suggest who they are, except that they are an Anglo-Eastern European group of businessmen.

And then there is Red Bull. The Austrian drinks company continues to have a dream of owning its own F1 team in order to bump up sales in the United States. It is a sensible marketing idea but it is not clear who is best-suited to run such a team. Tom Walkinshaw might be a possible candidate but the team might also be keen to have a rather more American face as the front man. There is also the question of where the team should be based with one (hard-to-believe) suggestion that the Austrians want to have the team based in the United States. This is highly impractical and would seem to suggest that the best team to buy would be Minardi which has access to a Boeing 747 which could fly things backwards and forwards to Europe. The plane could also act as a very large advertising hoarding, which is not a stupid idea. We have also heard continued whispers that some kind of deal could be struck between Red Bull and the Ford Motor Company to replace the less-than-successful Jaguar operation. There will be no answer on this until the Ford top management have finished compiling a report on the best way forward.

The most important thing right now is to find someone capable of designing a new (and competitive) chassis for Jaguar.

At Hockenheim the word was the sale of Arrows was in process with due diligence going on to see the exact state of the team's financial woes. Our sources say that Morgan Grenfell want nothing more to do with F1 and simply wish to be paid for its shares in the team. We hear that will $20m will be enough.

A deal is expected to be done in the course of the next three weeks and it is quite possible that in Budapest the team will be under new management but it remains to be seen what happens after that.