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Verstappen Well Off without Arrows, Says Schumacher

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Verstappen Well Off without Arrows, Says Schumacher

Thursday February 28th, 2002

Michael Schumacher criticised Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw on Thursday and expressed disappointment that Jos Verstappen would be absent from Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Formula One World Champion said the Dutchman, an old friend who lost his drive at Arrows this month to make way for Germany's Heinz-Harald Frentzen, was probably better off away from Walkinshaw's team.

"I am very disappointed for Jos," the German told a news conference when asked about Verstappen. "Probably it's better to not be employed by a boss with a reputation such as he has for throwing drivers out," added Schumacher.

"He (Verstappen) didn't really enjoy it at the end of this situation... I believe he now has some very interesting new opportunities and I hope they come true for him."

Schumacher and Verstappen were teammates together at Benetton in 1994, when the German won his first world title and Walkinshaw was engineering director of the team. Verstappen, who scored Arrows's only point last season, was confirmed by the team for 2002 midway through last year but was dropped when Frentzen became available.

German Frentzen, who was a Mercedes sportscar teammate of Schumacher and whose former girlfriend married the future champion, was fired by Jordan in 2001 but found a berth at Prost until that team folded.

Arrows have something of a reputation for discarding drivers close to the start of the season, jettisoning Finland's Mika Salo a matter of days before the Australian Grand Prix in 1999 to make way for Japan's Tora Takagi, and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa in 2001.

Salo is now a Toyota driver while Verstappen has had a seat fitting at Sauber, whose engines are provided by Ferrari, as a possible test driver.

Published at 06:43:36 GMT
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