Hidden Potential - 2002 Arrows A23 Cosworth (Double Trouble Part 1/2)
Arrows had been pretty much a “household” name in Formula 1 since its debut in 1978 with a long history of running down the order but sometimes produce a few incredible results with 9 podiums and no wins. Throughout its history in the sports, it also been the lauchnpad of famous names such as Gerhad Berger, and Riccardo Patrese. It was also famous for its crazy Arrows A2 and the failed Porsche partnership during its brief stint as Footwork or the famous moment when Taki Inoue being hit by a medical car at Hungary in 1995.
It was eventually bought by racing guru Tom Walkinshaw in 1997. Although the takeover didn’t help the team much in terms of performance in the following years.
The new car for the 2002 season was the A23 designed by Mike Coughlan. It was a huge evolution to the disappointing A22 last season. A completely new look. Higher front wing, rounded airbox and larger sidepods are visually distinctive. Most notably, ex-Sauber designer Sergio Rinland brought in a revolutionary twin keel design under the front wing. Rinland had previously used the single keel design on the Sauber C20 a year before and consulted a lot on the keel design of the car. Jos Verstappen mostly helped develop the new car before getting replace in the off season.
Another big change to the team was the new Cosworth new CR3 V10 natural aspirated engine to replace the old and unreliable Asiatech engine they used in 2001. Not only Arrows is using the new Cosworth engine, Ford-backed Jaguar Racing is also racing using the Cosworth CR3 engine. Both teams would later upgraded to the new CR4 later in the season. This would later prove to be a huge mistakes for the team.
The 2002 lineup was changed a bit from 2001. Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi was retained for his backing from Red Bull. Because the team needs more money, Jos Verstappen was replaced by Prost-bound Heinz-Harald Frentzen. This would prove to be a huge mistake as Verstappen was able to sued Arrows for breach in contract and cost Arrows a lot of money. Things later taking for the worst as the team couldn’t successfully sued former driver Pedro Diniz as he was allegedly taken his funds to drive for Sauber in 1999.
The car was finished later then expected and only had a limited amount of testings before going to Albert Park.
Although only had a limited testing millage, in Australia it was relatively competitive than most people expected. Both the Arrows qualified in front of their longtime “rivals” Minardi and the struggling Jaguars, but also running closely match to BAR and Toyota as well. The start was a complete mess as Ralf Schumacher instigated a huge pile up into Turn 1. Although initially survived the utter chaos. Things came to a sudden end for the team in just two laps. Bernoldi was disqualified on Lap 15 for changing in the spare car, Frentzen was disqualified a lap later due to running pass the red light while in the pit. Ruining them of a chance to compete for points.
Next was Sepang, although had a good qualify, Bernoldi retired early with a fuel pressure issues. Frentzen meanwhile bringing in the first finish of the season two laps down in 11th. Things got even worse when the team posted two double retirements in the next two races at Interlagos and Imola due to suspension issues and the Cosworth engine quit mid race respectively.
Spain was a huge encouragement for the team. After qualifying in 10th, Frentzen drove brilliantly to finish 6th for the team. Getting the team first point of the season. Bernoldi continues his consistence form of not reaching the finish for the fifth race in a row due to hydraulics failure. Austria would prove to be a struggle for the team with the unreliable and low in performance Cosworth engine. Frentzen finishes the eventful race in 11th, while Bernoldi still can’t reach the line following a collision in just the second lap.
The streets of Monte Carlo would prove to be the team best results of the season with Frentzen again getting a point by finishing 6th while Bernoldi finally reach the line in 12th.
The next two race was mostly still the same as always with Frentzen finishing in 13th while Bernoldi retired early with a suspension failure at Montreal. Nurburgring is where Bernoldi finally finishes ahead of Frentzen for the only time in the season where they would finish 10th and 13th respectively.
Problem grows for the team with Frentzen, who was on a race-by-race contract fails to receives payment from the team and forcing the British squad another headache issues. Arrows’s home race at Silverstone would be another disaster where Frentzen retired early with engine issues while the Brazilian with a driveshaft problems. In France, due to financial problems, it was reported that both drivers deliberately failed to qualify for the race by the team instructions. They were fast at the first two sectors but was unexpectedly slow after that.
After another poor showing at Hockenheim where both cars again retired due to mechanical issues, the team ultimately went into liquidation at the end of the season, also forcing the team to close down. There was takeover offers from former BAR team principal Craig Pollock twice and Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz (what could have become Red Bull after the Jaguar takeovers in 2004) but ultimately turned down and shut down Arrows for good.
Paul Stoddart of Minardi later bought both of the A23’s chassis as potential replacement for the PS03, ultimately it was less reliable and the PS03 was later became the PS04B.
It was again sold to Super Aguri and ran as the SA05 in 2006.
The car had a huge potential to run against the mid-field teams with a revolutionary design but the Cosworth engine and other reliability problems would hampered the progress and denied Arrows what could be their most successful season in many years. Financial problems and legal problems would also be a huge contributing factors towards the team's demise. This would be Arrows last ever season in Formula 1, ending their 25 years stint in the sports.