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  Friday, 5 July, 2002, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
F1's problems run deep
The Arrows garage at Silverstone
Arrows' problems could be a sign of wider trouble in F1

The financial problems that have brought the Arrows team to the brink of collapse have highlighted serious concerns in the Formula One paddock.

While bad financial management at Arrows has led to that team's problems, a number of leading figures believe that there is a more fundamental reason for unease.

Some top personnel at teams across the F1 spectrum believe that the situation is indicative of a general lack of new money coming into the sport.

Arrows' problems come five months after the collapse of the French Prost team, which went bankrupt before the start of the season.


All the teams have problems - F1 is not on a good road
Giancarlo Minardi

And Minardi have also admitted they are struggling to find the money to complete this season.

According to Giancarlo Minardi - former boss of Minardi, which is now owned by Australian Paul Stoddart - this is not simply an issue of the survival of the fittest in an ultra-competitive environment.

Minardi believes that F1 lacks appeal for sponsors - and that this is why teams are finding it difficult to raise the huge sums of money needed to compete.

"For me, it is a problem for Formula One, not just for the small teams," Minardi said.

"First Prost goes down, then Minardi is struggling, now Arrows - slowly it goes up the grid.

"All the teams have problems. Money is a serious problem for Minardi, but also for the big teams. F1 is not on a good road."


I don't think F1 is in crisis - when times are difficult, you need to be efficient
Renault boss Flavio Briatore

Minardi urged the teams to sit down together to find a solution - and he says that TV coverage is the place to start.

Minardi said that, with a few exceptions, there was a general lack of new sponsors in F1 and identified two problems that need to be resolved urgently to try to turn that around.

Firstly, he says that there is not an even enough split in exposure between the top teams and those lower down the grid.

This is highlighted by figures for the TV coverage from the European Grand Prix two weeks ago obtained by BBC Sport Online from another team.

They show that Ferrari got 40% of the TV exposure for that race, with Williams on 19% and McLaren on 14%. The other eight teams had the remaining 27% split between them.

This, some in F1 believe, means that many sponsors do not get sufficient return on their investment, reducing the appeal to new investors.

Secondly, Minardi says, new TV markets should be explored - chief among them China.

"I don't understand how it is possible that China does not have live TV. That is a big mistake because for all the car manufacturers that is the biggest potential market for the future."

Renault boss Flavio Briatore
Briatore blamed bad management

Minardi's view is not generally held among the top teams.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore blamed Arrows' problems on bad management, a view shared by many other leading figures.

He said: "Like any business, some do well and some do badly.

"I sold Ligier to [Alain] Prost when it was fifth or sixth in the championship with 30-odd points. Soon it had nothing.

"Management is very important. This is a very difficult competitive business.

"I don't think F1 is in crisis. When times are difficult, you need to be efficient."

Minardi describes this attitude as being "on another planet".

But some senior members at big teams do agree with Minardi's view.

"People sit around squabbling over the share-out of TV money, reducing testing and sharing parts in an attempt to save money," says the commercial director of one top team.

"But that is the horseradish sauce. The steak is what is important. It's very difficult to save money in F1 - you need to look at ways of getting more in.

"At the moment, it's just crisis management from race to race."

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Our man at Silverstone

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
Links to more Formula One stories are at the foot of the page.


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