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banner Tuesday, 5 March, 2002, 13:50 GMT
New F1 entry dismissed
Prost's old cars will not be racing in F1 this year
Buying Prost has not guaranteed a place for Phoenix
By BBC Sport Online's motorsport editor Andrew Benson

Reports that Skoda is to enter Formula One have been dismissed by high-level sources within the sport.

A Sunday newspaper reported this week that German car giant Volkswagen, which owns Skoda, is behind the recent purchase of the assets of the Prost team by Phoenix Finance.

But high-level sources in F1 have told BBC Sport Online that this is not the case - and that there is no chance of the new outfit racing this year.

And Skoda has denied that it has plans to enter Grand Prix racing.

He is wasting his time thinking about racing in Malaysia
Bernie Ecclestone
F1 boss

"We have no plans at the moment to go into F1, as far as I am aware," said a spokesperson.

"We have been in motorsport for over 100 years and we are going to stay in it so we are very flattered to be linked with this. It is the pinnacle of motorsport.

"But we are concentrating on our team in the World Rally Championship at the moment."

BBC Sport Online's sources added that the company that bought the assets of Prost will not able to race in F1 this year.

Phoenix Finance - run by Charles Nickersen, a friend of Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw - will be denied a chance to enter any Grands Prix because it has not bought Prost's entry into the championship.

Teams' entries into F1 cannot be bought and sold, according to the Concorde Agreement, the document by which the sport is governed.

Financial benefits

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said: "He has bought nothing in Formula One. All he has bought is some show-off cars.

"He can forget it. He is wasting his time thinking about racing in Malaysia," he told The Times newspaper.

And Max Mosley, the president of motorsport's governing body, the FIA, also implied that Phoenix would not be seen in F1 this year.

Mosley said: "We have not yet had any official communication from the purchasers of the Prost assets but they do appear to have major difficulties if they want to join the grid."

What Phoenix has bought are the financial benefits that Prost earned from their time in F1 - money from the prize fund, the sale of TV rights and the travel fund.

Long-term VW interest

However, it is unlikely to get even these, as a team loses their right to be paid them if they do not turn up to race.

Phoenix had claimed that it was trying to enter this year's F1 championship as soon as possible, using Prost's 2001 chassis and an old Arrows engine.

VW may enter F1 at some point in the next few years, but if it does it is likely to go through official routes, as Toyota did for its debut this season.

BBC Sport Online understands that VW has not approached motorsport's governing body, the FIA, about an entry - which would be the company's first course of action if it wanted to enter.

And last month FIA president Max Mosley said that he had not been contacted by any manufacturers about buying the assets of Prost for an immediate entry.

Skoda boss Bernd Pichetsrieder is to take over at VW when their current chairman Ferdinand Piech retires in April this year.

Pichestrieder is the man who struck the deal that took BMW into F1 with Williams and has made no secret of the fact that he is an F1 fan.

See also:

11 Jan 02 |  World Rally
Skoda: Struggling on
17 Oct 01 |  Formula One
VW linked with Jordan
01 Oct 01 |  Formula One
Volkswagen eyes F1 move
Links to more Formula One stories are at the foot of the page.


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