The Arrows Formula One team have come to the end of the road after it was placed into receivership by a London Court. Despite attempts to salvage a rescue bid, the team's days of being on the Formula One grid are now officially over.
The Leafield based squad have been in serious financial hardship for the last six months, forcing them to miss five of the last six events on the 2002 calendar and were added another blow in December when the FIA announced they had denied the team's application to compete in the 2003 season.
The team was founded in 1977 with remnants of the Shadow outfit and failed to win a single race, the closest being a second placed finish from Damon Hill at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 1997, although in the teams' second race, Ricardo Patrese led until he was forced to retire with engine failure fifteen laps from the end.
Arrows came by its name in a different way to most of the other teams. Italian Franco Ambrosio, who was to be later imprisoned for financial irregularity, sponsored shadow and he became the 'AR' of the team with the second 'R' coming from the financial director, Alan Rees. The long time managing director and former F1 driver, Jackie Oliver is the 'O' with the last two initials coming from designers Dave Wass and Tony Southgate.
Amazingly enough, their first car was prepared in just sixty short days, but although the very beginning looked hopeful, they quickly ran into trouble. Don Nichols, head of the Shadows team, claimed that the car was a copy of the new Shadow design and took the team to Court. The High Court ruled against Arrows, and informed them that they could not race the car. They built a new car in record time and it was in use by the following race.
However the team was plagued by pitfalls. In the Italian Grand Prix, Ronnie Peterson was tragically killed when his Lotus was involved in a multiple car accident at the start. Many top name drivers, including Niki Lauda and James Hunt, started a witch-hunt and eventually Patrese was held responsible for the tragedy and was banned from the following race in America.
The distinctive gold livery of the Wersteiner beer company on the 1979 Arrows, coupled with its futuristic look made the new A2 'buzz bomb' widely talked about. Unfortunately, looks don't win Grand Prix and the car was unsuccessful in the hands of Patrese and Jochen Mass, so the team reverted to a more conventional look.
To be competitive in the 1980's, the era of turbo, the team needed a firm link to an engine supplier, but it wasn't until BMW withdrew and re-badged their powerful four cylinder turbo engines to Megatron, that Arrows had a chance. Despite the best efforts of both Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever, that elusive first win was still not in view. Late in the eighties, the Japanese Footwork Corporation made a deal with Jackie Oliver, injecting vital funds.
The team was renamed 'Footwork' and with the pending arrival of the Porsche engine, the team looked set to finally see victory. Any hopes of repeating McLarens dominant days with the Porsche built TAG engines were dispelled when the 12-cylinder engine arrived. At that stage, a typical unit weighed roughly 145kg, but the Porsche was over 210kg!
The team continued on with the Porsche engines that they had been relying on, before switching to Japanese Mugen engines. In 1994, chief designer, Alan Jenkins designed the FA15 to accommodate a customer Ford engine along with some great rear end aerodynamics, but the new regulations due to the fatalities in the early nineties, greatly hampered the cars. Footwork reduced its involvement in the team and they reverted back to Arrows Grand Prix International.
Tom Walkinshaw arrived in 1996, replacing Jackie Oliver and it was he that signed the then World Champion, Damon Hill to drive for the team in 1997 alongside a paying driver, Pedro Diniz. They were running with the Yamaha engine and in Hungary that year it looked as if Hill would finally give the team their first victory, but a throttle linkage failure thwarted the team once more. Hill decided to leave the team at the end of the season and Mika Salo replaced him. Yamaha also moved on and Brian Hart built the engines for 1998. Pedro Diniz scored a sixth place in Monaco and a fifth in Belgium, while Mika Salo took fourth at Monaco.
1999 saw a bad year once again with the team constantly fighting with Minardi, at the back end of the field. Diniz left the team after the 98 season, as did Mika Salo as the team opted for new drivers in Tora Takagi and Pedro de la Rosa. Pedro's sixth place in 1999 was the only point the team received for the year. Takagi wasn't retained for the new season, the team opting to go for the experienced Dutch driver, Jos Verstappen to partner de la Rosa.
De la Rosa was then dumped at the start of 2001, replaced by Enrique Bernoldi with Jos Verstappen following the same fate the following year. The Dutchman was replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who walked away toward the latter stages of 2002 when it was obvious the team were on the brink of bankruptcy. The demise of the team means that Formula one has lost two squads in less than twelve months with Prost GP going into liquidation a little under 12 months ago.