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banner Friday, 1 March, 2002, 13:30 GMT
Prost sale sparks F1 row
Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw
Walkinshaw has denied he purchased the assets
A bitter row has broken out between rival Formula One team owners after the assets of the Prost team were bought by a group backed by Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw.

Walkinshaw would not reveal the identity of the buyer, but the liquidator, Cosme Rogeau, said that it was an organisation called Phoenix Finance, represented by British businessman Charles Nickerson.

Rogeau added that the organisation had bought Prost's 2001 and 2002 chassis, and the team's rights under the Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is governed.

The name Prost Grand Prix is not included in the sale, which could cause problems for the new owners, and several Prost assets, including the team's Guyancourt plant outside Paris, are still for sale. .


I think they will do the job properly but it's up to them to tell you what's what
Tom Walkinshaw
Arrows boss

Teams are not allowed to change their names without permission from an organisation called the F1 Commission, made up of other teams, sponsors' representatives and governing body the FIA.

Walkinshaw said he would be providing engineering expertise for the new owners.

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, who had also tried to buy Prost, has threatened legal action if the new owners try to compete in the 2002 championship.

"Prost (the team) died and should have remained dead," he said.

"If I were a creditor of Prost, I'd be pretty damn upset at the moment because the crown jewels have been sold for a reported 2.586m euros (1.6m) and only weeks ago, there was $60m (42m) on offer.

"If they do (appear in F1 this season), it will only be after I've lost court actions and injunctions against them."

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart
Stoddart: "It's a bad day for F1 if all this is true."

Stoddart added that such a deal would diminish the value of all the F1 teams.

"If this team changes hands 2.5m euros, then that has just taken a collective 300m euros off the value of teams up and down this pit lane".

Walkinshaw said that Stoddart was only angry because his attempt to buy Prost had failed.

"It's as simple as that," he said.

Walkinshaw said his TWR company was supporting the buyers "with a whole load of the engineering back-up from TWR to get it up and running and do it properly".

It remains unclear where the new buyers intend to get an engine supply after Ferrari, which sold engines to Prost, said they would not be supplying the revived team.

Walkinshaw would not disclose the people who now own the team, which had been run by former world champion Alain Prost.

Bankrupt

"When they are ready they will do it. I don't want to be drawn into it. I think they will do the job properly but it's up to them to tell you what's what," said the Scot.

"The tribunal accepted the guys' offer yesterday. I think Minardi made an offer as well but they were unsuccessful."

Walkinshaw added that Arrows remained his focus.

The Prost team were declared bankrupt on 28 January with estimated debts of around $28m.

Alain Prost
Prost was unable to save his team

The French team had ended 2001 with no title sponsor, and had no engine deal or drivers in place for 2002. Their new car was unfinished and it had planned to start the season with last year's model.

Prost's main asset was the 12th and final slot on the F1 grid.

Prost also earned revenue for finishing ninth overall last season, money that Minardi might have claimed instead.

Some F1 insiders were suggesting on Friday that the new owners of Prost might be able to retain their entry by paying a fine for non- appearance in Melbourne.

That would likely be as much as $500,000.

See also:

28 Jan 02 |  Formula One
Prost lose fight for survival
28 Jan 02 |  Formula One
Professor receives a harsh lesson
29 Jan 02 |  Formula One
Prost is through with France
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