Arabian Business Weekly Update 18 October 2004

Dubai hjas plans to launch its own Formula One team. But can it work?

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  October 18, 2004

Money talks|~||~||~|It’s hard not to admire Dubai’s Formula One ambitions. In the past few days, Team Dubai has placed itself on the world stage, with grand plans to enter an independent motor racing team into the 2006 Formula One season. But will it really happen? According to a spokesman for Grand Prix Investments, which is helping Team Dubai with the project, “Formula One is not just about chequebooks.” Really? In the next few weeks, Team Dubai will have to lodge a US$48 million security deposit with the sport’s governing body, to register its interest. That’s the easy (and cheap) bit. Throughout next season, Team Dubai will need to run a “shadow” team at every single Grand Prix across the globe, as it learns how the industry really works. That will cost around US$11 million (and is the really cheap bit). If the project goes ahead, a minimum budget of US$150 million for its first season is likely, based on the budgets of the sport’s smaller teams. Then again, let’s look at what’s happened to those smaller teams: Jaguar has been put up for sale, after burning through the best part of US$500 million over the past few years. The luckless Jordan team is desperate for a buyer, and the smallest team in F1, Minardi, is a laughing stock. Not exactly the kind of credibility that Team Dubai will be hoping for. If Team Dubai does manage to obtain its engines from Mercedes, as has been suggested, then a major hurdle will have been overcome. But the Formula One road is littered with financial wreckage. Team Dubai has good intentions and big ambitions. But it will soon find out that Formula One is often just about chequebooks. ||**||

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