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This Saudi Prince Faux joined Tyrrell’s Formula 1 team for non-existent money

Jos Verstappen made his Tyrrell-Ford debut at the 1997 Melbourne Grand Prix, the same year Sulaiman Al-Kehaimi flirted with the team.

Jos Verstappen made his Tyrrell-Ford debut at the 1997 Melbourne Grand Prix, the same year Sulaiman Al-Kehaimi flirted with the team.
image: ANGELA WYLIE / AFP (beautiful pictures)

Sulaiman Al-Kehaimi appeared on the Formula 1 circuit for the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix with flair. He threw a big part over the weekend in a race in a mansion – supposedly weakenedis none other than Cher – and promises a struggling Team Tyrrell that, as a Saudi prince, he has the money to buy a controlling stake in the impoverished team. Except, he wasn’t a prince at all, and Tyrrell eventually succumbed to defeat.

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Team Tyrrell owns one of the most compelling stories in racing history. After realizing he was not a driver, Ken Tyrrell used a keen eye for racing talent to begin recruiting promising drivers in the lower divisions of Formula 3 and Junior Formula. Even after teaming up with Elf, Ford and Matra to enter F1, Tyrrell maintained a forest as his primary location – and it was in that forest that the team prepared a Championship winning car world champion for Jackie Stewart.

The team was largely a family operation, and it began to fall apart in the mid-1980s. Ken Tyrrell couldn’t afford to develop the turbo engines that had stormed F1, making the team the final team. using the once revolutionary Cosworth DFV. The prognosis remained dire until the 1990s, despite some podiums.

Enter Sulaiman Al-Kehaimi. This man flooded the Formula 1 circuit with the promise of Saudi royal lineage and announced he intends to buy a 51% stake in Tyrrell in Monaco Grand Prix 1996. He threw a lavish party at a $50 million mansion in the south of France and invited superstar guests – including Cher – whom he helicoptered to and from the track. His interest in struggling Tyrrell seemed too good to be true, but the team was ready to negotiate.

Not like some other sponsorship or ownership stories we wrote about here on Jalopnik, this isn’t anything of the sort. In fact, Al-Kehaimi’s schtick actually lasted for only a few race weekends in 1996 before he moved on to other goals, leaving Tyrrell reeling as he struggled to find enough money to keep going. next season. Now, the team is not only poor but also embarrassed to warm up.

Al-Kehaimi, for his part, is nothing but the son of a ambassador, Not a prince. He also, 1998, was brought to court on charges of buying and selling securities of value by deception, attempted deception and theft. Al-Kehaimi has been cleared of all charges.

At the end of the 1997 season, Ken Tyrrell was tired. He sold the team to Craig Pollock, who was also building the British American Grand Prix, and left the team shortly after due to disagreements with Pollock over the selection of Ricardo Rosset and his ample sponsorship money as main driver. instead of Tyrrell’s Jos Verstappen.

Tyrrell went through his final 1998 season without scoring a single point. Its final race would be that year’s Japanese Grand Prix, in which Rosset failed to qualify while his teammate Tora Takagi retired in lap 28 after a collision.

Ken Tyrrell died in August 2001, from cancer and rapidly declining health during his final years in motorsport. But some of Tyrrell’s legacy lives on in modern F1. While BAR bought the Tyrrell team and joined, it sold Tyrrell’s equipment to Paul Stoddart, who took over the Minardi F1 team. In a complex network of purchases and acquisitions, Tyrrell ended up becoming the current Brawn GP and Mercedes F1 team.

However, for the name Tyrrell, it was too late and the downward spiral was only exacerbated by a false sheikh.


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