The things that F1 cynics will say...

THE recent spate of fast laps from Jean Alesi in the new Prost-Ferrari AP04 is good news for the French team but there are more than a few people in the cynical F1 community who feel that the remarkably quick laps being produced are probably more to do with an impending sponsorship deal than the actual speed of the new car. Clearly the car is not bad and very reliable but the lap times are simply too good for some to accept. There are no restrictions of what teams can do in free testing and so Prost could be running with traction-control or underweight. It would not be the first time in the history of the sport that some very fast laps had been used to close a sponsorship deal. In fact, Arrows was running very fast laps as well so perhaps the cynics are right after all.

Arrows, by the way, is busy denying that there are problems with its relationship with Chello following reports that all was not well. The team is planning to launch the 2001 sponsorship package in Australia. Arrows's head of strategic and acquisition development Andy King said that no official announcement has been made by Chello and that meetings are still taking place with Arrows.

The loss of Chello would be a blow to Arrows following the departure of Repsol-YPF but with Enrique Bernoldi bringing a big budget with him at least some of the slack will be taken up. Orange is expected to remain with the team but it remains to be seen whether the team's other big sponsor Eurobet will continue. It is possible that Chello may be seen on the Prost team as Chello and Prost backer PSN are affiliated companies.

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