December 6th, 2002

Milk Carton

Arrows are out of Formula1

The Arrows Formula One team will take legal action against the sport's governing body after being excluded from the 2003 championship. The team released a statement on Tuesday saying it was "surprised" at being omitted from the championship. "Arrows confirms that it has served notice to the FIA of its intention to appeal to the appropriate body for a hearing to resolve this issue," the statement continued."Arrows remains committed to securing the future of the team."

Daniele Audetto, speaking on behalf of Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw, told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport that the team had paid $300,000 (£191,664) to register their entry by the official deadline. He also said the team had been on the brink of being sold to German businessman Oliver Behring as the representative of a group of Arab investors until the FIA's decision. "It's true that they had not yet paid us but they were waiting to do so after the world championship entry had been confirmed," he said. The FIA issued its entry list for 2003 on Monday with just 10 teams and a footnote explaining Arrows' request had been rejected.

The team missed the last five races of 2002 and also deliberately failed to qualify in France as financial troubles took their toll. Walkinshaw pleaded unavoidable circumstances, saying the team had been given legal advice not to compete while negotiations were under way to sell the team.His pleas have been rejected by the FIA.

F1 rules dictate that teams must compete in every races. Given that the penalties for not competing are so severe, Walkinshaw has yet to explain why the team did not compete while negotiations were going on. Paul Stoddart, team principal of rivals Minardi, said he hoped there would be no legal challenge from the Arrows team. He said: "For the sake of Formula One I hope there is no controversy over the entries to next year's championship because if ever we needed to unite and go forward in a professional and proper way it's now."The absolute last thing this sport needs is to have any kind of controversy or legal challenges to who may or may not be entitled to enter the 2003 championship."

Arrows hold the unwanted F1 record of 382 starts without ever winning a race and have been hanging on by the skin of their teeth for some years. Even if Arrows survive now they will have to pay a £31m bond to the FIA to enter the championships. Arrows have lost many members of staff in recent months because of financial uncertainty. The team also faces winding-up orders in the courts from several creditors including former driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen and engine suppliers Cosworth.
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