The little Italian Minardi team produced a major achievement last year when they did not finish last. Unsurprisingly, they were unable to repeat it in 2001.
For a long time over the winter, it looked like Minardi might not even make the grid.
There was no money, no sponsors and no drivers, and every chance of finding a backer to solve the problems seemed to collapse.
Then, at the 11th hour, along came Australian millionaire Paul Stoddart, with ambitious plans to make something of the team.
It remains to be seen what Stoddart can achieve in the long term, but the short term is proving to be the expected tough battle for survival.
An engine deal was only finalised at the last minute, which means that the car's design was inevitably compromised.
And the engine with which Minardi ended up is heavy, under-powered and out of date.
On top of that, Minardi have now lost their highly-rated technical director, Gustav Brunner, he has been poached - for a stratospheric salary - by Toyota, who will make their debut in 2002.
The cards are stacked heavily against Minardi - and Stoddart will have to be a hell of a player to achieve anything with this hand.
Official team website:Minardi
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