At the time of its eventual liquidation mid-way through the 2002 season, Arrows was one of the longest-running teams in F1. It was formed in 1977 by Franco Ambrosio, Alan Rees, Jackie Oliver, Dave Wass and Tony Southgate, who had all previously been part of the Shadow team. It even began racing in 1988 with a clone of the Shadow DN9 car, a move that was eventually declared illegal.
Despite all of the initial bartering, the Arrows team settled in well in F1 and took a quite remarkable podium finish at its seventh attempt at the Swedish Grand Prix, courtesy of the team’s young and upcoming driver Ricardo Patrese.
And that was just the start of the Arrows story. Over the next two decades, the team would consistently punch above its weight, taking podiums and points finishes whenever the opportunity arose. Arrows’ best season was 1988 when the team finished fifth in the constructors’ championship.
However the relative success of the ‘80s eventually dried up as the 1990s arrived, and Arrows became a perennial rear-end runner. A disastrous season in 1991 set the tone for the rest of the team’s lifespan, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom, there were occasional points finishes and another podium in 1995.
And then, in quite an extraordinary twist, 1996 world champion Damon Hill found himself without a drive for 1997, and his only option was to turn to Arrows. And this connection brought about one of the most exciting, yet ultimately heart-breaking moments in F1 history. Hill brilliantly led for the majority of the Hungarian Grand Prix, driving away from the field with genuine pace. His win looked assured, but for a hydraulic issue that tore the soul out of me as I watched on. He eventually finished in second place, but it cemented the place of Arrows in the history books.
Hill left at the end of the year and Arrows’ downfall continued as it had done for the previous decade. The team eventually succumbed to financial turmoil in 2002.