Recently part one of the German Grand Prix Racing Team was published on UnracedF1. The mainline of the story was the attempt to save the Orange Arrows team by German banker Oliver Behring. To turn it in all German team. Sadly, the deal was never completed, and the Arrows team disappeared from the grid. This was just the first part of the story; Oliver Behring continued to bring the German Grand Prix Racing to the grid in 2004.
On the 12th of December 2002 Oliver Behring pulled the plug, and didn’t continue with the deal he said previously was 99, 95% sure. Instead of buying the Arrows team, he thought of different ways to enter the Formula One. It could be by taking over a current team, or become partners, or by building a team from scratch. Whatever it would be, it was sure that the team would appear on the grid, during the first race in 2004 held in Melbourne. He spoke these words on the 25th of May in 2003 during a press conference, he also said that the FIA already received the team’s apply to be on the grid in 2004. This would mean that the German Grand Prix Racing team also could pay the 48million dollar fee.
In March 2003, the first rumours appeared in the paddock that the German Grand Prix Racing team was in contact with Ford’s premier performance division, to discuss the deal of using Jaguar’s chassis’ and the Cosworth engines in 2004. Since 2004, it was made possible by the FIA to buy parts of chassis from existing teams. It was said that the deal was completed between both parties, the future looked bright for the team. The deal included customer chassis and engines from Jaguar and Cosworth. While the German team would keep on developing the chassis’ themselves. Unconfirmed it was said that Oliver Behring gave the order to construct the infrastructure for the team. Including a wind tunnel.
Was there anything known about the crew and personal of the team? Well yes, there were already 160 / 170 engineers recruited by the team. Behring named Craig Pollock as the Team Manager. Pollock was one of the people behind the BAR team that took over the Tyrrell team in 1998, and came with their own team. Dumping the Tyrrell infrastructure to Paul Stoddart. While Pollock was experienced, he could also speak German. It would suit an all-German team after all.
Meanwhile the German Grand Prix Racing team contracted two test drivers, who would test the GGR01, probably the car would been named like this, in November and December. Sven Barth was the first one. He won the Formula Volkswagen Championship in 2002. The second one mentioned was Thomas Westarp, who won the Formel König championship in 2001. Both were only contracted as test drivers, and wouldn’t make any chance to become one of the drivers in 2004. However, both Barth and Westarp wouldn’t drive a single meter with the car, because it would never been build.
When I asked Sven Barth to confirm he had a contract with the team he came with the follow answer on twitter.
“Yes mate that‘s true! I had a contract but unfortunately at the end it was a bubble because of a lack of a few millions!”
On the 21st of April 2003, Oliver Behring gave an press conference, in It he said he was looking for Eddie Irvine as one of his drivers. Irvine didn’t had a seat for 2003, and with his experience and knowledge he would be a perfect candidate to be one of the drivers. A second name has never been official announced. However, rumours say that Jos Verstappen was one of the candidates. More interesting was the fact that Behring said that it wouldn’t be weird if the second driver would be a female. Maybe he mentioned Sarah Fisher?
However, I don’t understand why Alexander Wurz or even Heinz-Harald Frentzen were mentioned. During the same press conference Behring told the media that the already had a main sponsor for the season, and it was in speaking terms with several other sponsors for the team. It seemed the team was financially healthy.
Well, the team wasn’t financial healthy. The deal with Jaguar was around 28million Dollars, it had to be paid in terms. Behring only came once with a cheque, and the cheque wasn’t collectable. You would almost understand that this would been the end of the German Grand Prix Racing team. But no this wasn’t the case at all.
Soon after the deal with Jaguar was thrown in the bin, Oliver Behring contacted Paul Stoddart, Minardi’s team boss at that time. In 2003 Minardi was still in financial troubles and was looking for money to survive in the Formula One. Oliver Behring seemed to be the saviour for the struggling Minardi. Soon after the first talks happened, Paul Stoddart already saw that the promises were too good to be true and he stopped even before any concrete deals were made.
Not long after the contact between Oliver Behring and Paul Stoddart was stopped, Behring was accused for fraud by the public prospector’s office in Verden. An investigation against Behring was started. Later Bernie Ecclestone said to the media “Oliver Behring is a fine guy who always forgets to pay”. If you remember the Arrows story, there was this mysterious Arabic investor that would provide the financial part of the deal. What happened with them? Well I couldn’t find out what happened after the deal with the Orange Arrows team was cancelled. You could ask yourself if the story of the Arabic investor was real or not.
Sources: Sven Barth / Minardi / Allaboutarrows.co.uk / Verstappen.nl / Grandprix.com / Formule 1 magazine / Racereport magazine / Autosport magazine /