Smaller marques want change in F1

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Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Formula One’s band of small teams are demanding showdown talks with supremo Bernie Ecclestone in Abu Dhabi this weekend after suggesting a “questionable cartel” is being created within the sport.

On Monday a letter from Force India, Sauber and Lotus was sent to Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and the team principals of the remaining six marques detailing their ongoing grievances.

Since the demise of Marussia late last month, and with Caterham’s future in limbo, despite the fact they will be in Abu Dhabi, the smaller marques have been demanding change in F1.

Their calls for a fairer and more even distribution of the sport’s revenues have so far failed to cut any ice.

A two-and-a-half-hour meeting involving Ecclestone and all the team principals at the last race in Brazil proved to be “a complete and utter waste of time”, according to the 84-year-old.

Over the intervening period the small teams have heard nothing from Ecclestone, prompting the letter – which has been leaked – and calling for another chance to resolve matters at the Yas Marina circuit.

They have expressed concerns at the prospect of customer cars, or a ‘Super GP2’ series being introduced into F1, and have categorically stated the Strategy Group – that comprises Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and Williams – has “no intention at all to reduce costs”.

The letter highlights the fact that 70-80 per cent of their budgets this year has gone towards the introduction of the new power units, with the remainder nowhere near enough to run a team over a 19-grand prix season, or 20 as it will be next year.

In citing the fact the ‘Big Four’ of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren claimed half of last year’s revenues, the letter added: “The current skewed position is a direct result of the massive increase of costs and the lack of willingness to reduce the costs.”

The letter further stated: “We cannot accept the current distribution of funds in view of the massive increase of expenses. We understand the distribution is based on our bilateral agreements.

“It is, however, known to us all under which circumstances we signed these deals.

“The shareholder’s focus during the negotiations was on securing the co-operation with big teams in view of the planned IPO; we were effectively given no room for negotiation.

“Furthermore, the impact of providing various share options to key people and entities may well have clouded their judgement in respect of creating what is effectively a questionable cartel comprising, the Commercial Rights Holder, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams, controlling both the governance of Formula One and apparently, the distribution of FOM (Formula One Management) funds.

“Whilst the FIA are involved in the Strategy Group, they are impotent to act, as demonstrated in the recent cost control process which saw the FIA issue a media statement confirming their intent to impose cost controls and their subsequent climb down when overruled by the CRH, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams.”

The bottom line, according to the small teams, is that F1’s “collective inability to react is damaging the sport”, and that “pursuing a direction towards third/customer cars is creating fears”.

The letter added: “Such a move, representing a misuse of power, will not only change the DNA of Formula One, but also damage the value of our enterprises and lead to job losses.

“A two-tier system can only be considered a short-sighted vision.

“It is evident the current developments are dramatically reducing the value of Formula One and massively undermining its reputation as a sport.”

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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