On This Day in #F1: 14 January

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 2003 Arrows – Come on, let’s finish how we started..

I must admit, I always had a soft spot for the Arrows Grand Prix team. I have no reasonable biased motive why this should be so but I always felt they were an honest team in a pool of sharks.

Which is ironic really as they began and ended their existence in a High Court.

arrows_A22_manu-01_012On this day, the Arrows Grand Prix team went into liquidation with over $30,000,000 of debts. This would eventually bankrupt TWR – Tom Walkinshaw Racing – but the story of Arrows effectively started in a British Court of Law.

ARROWS was originally founded in November 1977 by Franco Ambrosio (A), Alan Rees (R), Jackie Oliver (O), Dave Wass (W) and Tony Southgate (S).

Ambrosio was a wheat tycoon from Naples in Italy and he would sponsor the Shadow Formula One team in 1977; backing the Italian driver Renzo Zorzi. His is a name you are unlikely to remember except for his contribution to the horrific deaths of his team-mate – Tom Pryce – and a naive young marshal crossing the Kyalami straight to extinguish Zorsi’s engine fire.

If Zorzi suffered with the trauma of the fatal accident, it has not been reported, but after some unsuccessful events he would be replaced by Ricardo Patrese.

Rees and Oliver had both had successful careers in motor-racing and would both be instrumental in launches of new teams. Rees set up March Engineering with Max Mosley and Robin Herd and ran the team before he joined Shadow as team manager in 1976. Oliver drove for the Shadow team before moving into the business management side of the team in the mid 70’s.

Wass was a designer with BRM in the early sixties and would learn from Tony Rudd, Len Terry and Tony Southgate. In 1974, when BRM was closed down, Wass would follow his colleague to Shadow where he remained until 1977.

Southgate worked for various concerns including Lola and Eagle. Whilst working for BRM he designed the race winning BRM’s of 1971 and 1972. He joined Shadow for the 1973 season – where he worked until joining Lotus in 1976 and worked on the design of the Lotus 78. In mid 1977, he returned to Shadow before leaving to form Arrows.

The Arrows FA/1 was designed and built in 53 days and Patrese, it’s driver, led easily at the second race of the 1978 season – the South African Grand Prix – until it’s engine expired.

arrows-arrows-fa1-ford-78However the writing was already on the wall. Shadow had issued instructions to sue Arrows for copyright infringement as they felt the Arrows design was a direct copy of their car which had also been designed by Southgate. The designer had anticipated the courts ruling and had been busy working to design the replacement – the Arrows A1

The High Court reached it’s judgement on the 31st July 1978 and they declared the Arrows FA/1 illegal. The team unveiled the new design on the following day – it had taken a mere 52 days to complete it’s design and build.


One man who would not witness the completion of the inaugural season was Ambrosio. He had been sentenced to a jail term in Italy due to financial irregularities with his extensive business empire.

The team would remain a middle of the grid team for the next twenty five years; employing a number of great drivers and engineers – including Ross Brawn – as it passed through different ownerships until it’s demise in 2003.

7 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 14 January

  1. Me too – I liked the Warwick/Cheever years, wanted the footwork/Porsche to do better, and finally when verstappen was there.

  2. And then, the biggest shark of them all ruined them: testing with underweight cars, ditching drivers who had a contract and ruining himself along. Walkinshaw surely had it coming, Karma-wise.

  3. Another nice one Carlo – I also wanted to see them do well – and yet I also have no idea why… Has any other constructor ever had such a widespread, yet odd, effect…?

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