The remains of Prost Grand Prix may be reborn as early as Malaysia or if not then, by Brazil according to Tom Walkinshaw. The Arrows boss' TWR (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) Group will be taking care of engineering for the new team, believed to have been bought by Charles Nickerson.
According to the official Liquidator, UK Finance group Phoenix has not acquired the whole of Prost as they missed the French trade court deadline, but have the new AP05 cars, some 2001 spec AP04 models, spare parts and rights relating to the Concorde agreement (primarily the team position in F1 rankings).
The new team have also arranged to hire some chassis elements and the whole deal is thought to be in the region of E2.8million.
Naturally they will be needing drivers, and fortunately there happen to be a few going spare at the moment. Tomas Enge, who raced for Prost last year, Jos Verstappen, who has also been linked to a Sauber test drive, and Argentinian Gaston Mazzacane, also aprevious Prost driver, have all been rumoured to be in the picture.
As for a base, Prost's fully fitted factory at Guyancourt, France is due to be auctioned off although Walkinshaw says the new team are more likely to be based in the UK. With the links to TWR, who will also supply 1999 spec TWR V10 engines on a short term basis, it is possible that a move to the UK would make sense: a move that Eddie Jordan urged Alain Prost to make years ago.
Walkinshaw protests that TWR will only be involved with the new team on an engineering basis and has not actually bought Prost itself. "TWR will be responsible for the engineering back-up to the people who have acquired the assets from Prost, that’s all," Walkinshaw said in Melbourne. "TWR don’t own Prost. Arrows is not involved in the deal at all and we have to stay focussed and have a good year, we have a good car and we have to make the most out of it."
Minardi principal Paul Stoddart, who previously put in an unsuccessful bid for Prost, is not happy at all about the way things have been done, some say because he was hoping for a share of Prost's television rights if they did not compete this year.
"I don’t think that what Tom says is the case and all will become apparent in court because what has happened is fundamentally illegal and it will be sorted before that team attempts to present itself at a Grand Prix," Stoddart said.
"Whoever the purchaser is we think they bought a car collection and not an entry to the 2002 season. We are trying to show in court that something which is legally and morally flawed will not be allowed to happen."
Stoddart thinks that Phoenix haven't bought Prost Grand Prix ( the company) merely parts of the equipment, which does not give them the right to race. [Editor's note: Please see *Prost]
"Here it's clear: it’s morally and legally wrong," Stoddart commented. "The fact they didn’t attend scrutineering for this race and that they were absent and insolvent shows they can’t compete. I’ve read from the liquidator that he hasn’t sold Prost Grand Prix (the company) which is the signatory team in the Championship so they can’t possibly complete."
"They don’t have any rights to be part of Formula One. I hope it doesn’t have to go to court, but knowing a certain individual I think it’s going to have to. If I was a creditor, I’d be asking a lot of questions to the liquidator."
Mr Cosme ROGEAU, acting as the liquidator of Prost Grand Prix,
And Mr Charles NICKERSON, acting as the representative of PHOENIX FINANCE Ltd,
wish to remind everybody concerned that the sale which has been finalised does not include the Prost Grand Prix team but only specific assets.
The above named wish to confirm that it will be a new team which competes in the 2002 Formula One Championship.
Versailles, March 2nd, 2002
The liquidator of Prost Grand Prix
The representative of PHOENIX FINANCE Ltd
Charles J. NICKERSON