The cash-strapped Arrows Grand Prix team instructed runners Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi to deliberately fail to qualify their A23 runners yesterday.
While competition in all Grands Prix is required to meet the requirements of the Concorde Agreement - and avoid a fine of up to half a million dollars - a dispute with major shareholders Morgan Grenfell has meant that the weekend's racing at Magny-Cours has merely been a distraction in sealing the future of the Leafield-based team.
Completing just one timed lap each, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi posted first and second sector times at the French circuit which would have easily qualified them to contest today's Grand Prix.
Deliberately slow third and final sectors, however, gave Arrows the ability to pack up early, return to their Leafield base in rural England, and prepare fully for the rest of the 2002 season.
The fact that they attempted to qualify, however, means that - technically - the team contested round eleven of the 2002 Formula One(tm) World Championship. For the record, both Arrows' posted one flying lap each in the entire weekend's racing.
'Negotiations concerning the team's future will continue next week along with preparations for the German Grand Prix,' said a team spokesperson.
Tom Walkinshaw, Team Principal, outlined Arrows' priority to 'Get this team back on its feet and in a position where we can build a positive future.
'It's sad but we'll go home and prepare for Hockenheim.'
While Enrique Bernoldi has left the Nevers region bound for England, lead Arrows driver has been invited by former boss Eddie Jordan to substitute for injured Jordan ace Giancarlo Fisichella.
The 33-year-old German won the French Grand Prix of 1999, staged at the Magny-Cours circuit, for Jordan.
His participation requires the unanimous consent of all Formula One(tm) team principals; including Tom Walkinshaw.
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