|Sep.10.2002 "Dome F1 Adventure Behind The Scene
Le Petit Price Comes to Japan
Marick hurriedly came to Japan in February 1998. I picked him up
from Kansai Airport, showed him around our company and discussed with
President and Director Oku to materialize the project.
Marick hadn't changed his mind to have a F1 debut in 1999 from the
last meeting we had in London. I had given a plan to materialize his
ambition though I was pretty sure it was impossible due to lack of
time. After showing around the factory and the design room, we
suggested that we should concentrate on tests in 1999 and make a debut
in 2000 instead as he should have sensed that his ambition was difficult
from what he had just seen. But our trial failed. It didn't matter if
his schedule made sense or not. He must have had some kind of deal
fixed with the investors group, his attitude was "all or nothing" - if
we didn't do it now, this case was gone.
It had been 4 years since I left the position in F1 industry, and it
was a good timing to start again before my experience and knowledge in
F1 industry wore off. But it was difficult to set up the operation base
in England in synchronism with producing the car and setting up a racing
President had been very positive about the whole thing and said, "
We are not in the position to pursue dreaming. We will maximize any
opportunities" but also said, "but we cannot even start without the
engine, can we?" speaking from his own agonizing experience.
Thus we headed to Tokyo together to meet Mugen to see if there were
any possibilities we could have engine from them.
To tell the truth, it was a kind of ceremony for Marick as we did
know the situation between Honda and Mugen then. Marick said he was
interested in Dome itself, not because of Mugen engine but it was quite
obvious and we thought it was the best thing for him to meet President
Honda directly and know the situation by the feel.
The meeting with President Honda of Mugen was basically positive.
President Honda said it may be possible to go into the F1 world as
Mugen/Dome F1 project with Marick's passion towards Africa on the ground
that they had a different points of view; Honda participates as a works
team to get a quick result as a car manufacturer, to up build Japanese
motor sport industry, or to bring up young drivers and engineers etc.
Our attitude was to move forward day by day, step by step…from the 20th
to 15th place, from 15th to 10th place, then into the top 6th places.
By the time the world will acknowledge that we are a part of their
world, and this is how we should go about F1 challenge.
"It is useless to flog a dead horse" but I cannot help thinking it
is such a shame we weren't given a chance, seeing Honda working with
BAR, BAR & Jordan continuously later.
Having said that, it was impossible for President Honda to say they
could provide the engine for 2.4 billion yen at that time. We could do
nothing but wait for the policy fixed on Honda's management side and
Marick had to learn the fact by facing it.
As we knew Honda was preparing for F1 challenge, offering concrete
consultation to them was a good way of spying out their inside details
in return. Anyhow, it seemed to little bit inappropriate to take this
huge prince to Honda Headquarter with me so I decided to ask my good
friends from Honda to come to a hotel full of foreigners in Akasaka.
Sadly, it didn't turn out we could actually discuss as they were
unusually quiet. It was one-way conversation and we ended up talking
just about our plan and situations to them. We understood why they kept
so quiet soon later. Honda announced their 3rd term F1 challenge plan
under the direction of Mr. Kawamoto.
Marick was so disappointed to hear the news and I tried to calm him
down. We left Tokyo in disappointment. I felt so sorry for him but we
basically wanted to postpone the 1999 debut plan anyway, and we had no
intention of having other engine options for the following year's
challenge. Neither President nor myself wanted to talk about Supertech
etc. with Frabio Briatore.
President later came to England to have further meetings with Marick
and some marketing representatives from a Tobacco company to develop
actions to overcome but we couldn't see a breakthrough. Time passed
relentlessly and Monaco GP was about to start. We told Marick that the
time for 1999 debut plan was up.
Marick was in a hopeless plight and to our surprise he used the
Mogan Glennfeld's billions of investment to buy Arrows. As you may know
he was kicked out of the team later though.
I have seen Tom opening or closing the garage at Grand Prix recently
and the onset of the current situations roots from the investoment. Is
this Marick's grudge?