F1: Mosley launches fusillade at Ecclestone

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, June 26th, 2008

 
 

The decisions made at the FIA’s latest World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris amount to a stack of grenades lobbed in the direction of Bernie Ecclestone and his Formula One Management company.

They include inviting tenders for a Formula 2 series to rival Ecclestone’s and partner Flavio Briatore’s highly successful GP2, and a radically shortened deadline for F1 entry that is being viewed as a weapon to head off breakaway threats.

Also on the cards are new technical regulations, “a review of the governance of F1” and a reported bid to offer the teams up to 25 per cent higher annual payments as a reward for sticking with the status quo.

Needless to say, this is being widely viewed as a declaration of outright war by Mosley on Ecclestone following the latter’s refusal to back the former in his recent travails with the media and the vote of confidence that he recently faced.

As ITV F1 puts it: “Ecclestone wants the FIA’s signature on a new Concorde Agreement along the same lines as the recently lapsed one, whereas Mosley wants more revenue to go the teams and less to Ecclestone’s Formula One Management company.

“Ecclestone has argued that the governing body has no right to ‘interfere’ in commercial matters and warned that the European Commission would intervene if it sought to do so.

“However, the FIA believes its undertakings to the EU do not preclude it from trying to ensure that more of the sport’s revenues are recycled to the teams.”

But fans like us will doubtless also be asking how all this can possibly contribute to the long-term health of motorsport, a discipline that will facing enough challenges in the next few years without adding internal wrangling and more disastrous PR to the list.

Here are the main points from the WMSC meeting:

  • “A wide-ranging consultation with the Formula One teams to examine plans for improved efficiency, including new technical regulations for the Championship. This will also involve a review of the governance of Formula One.”
  • Applications from teams wishing to compete in the 2009 F1 Championship must now be submitted to the FIA between July 1 and July 31. In previous years the deadline has been in mid-November.
  • The team entry fee for the 2009 Championship increased by three per cent to €309,000 or roughly £246,000. The Telegraph had reported prior to the meeting that a substantial increase was on the cards, intended to pay for improvements in safety, communications and race administration.
  • However, the FIA statement contains this paragraph: “The FIA will launch a consultation with the Formula One teams for the introduction of further fees to cover improved safety systems and equipment at every Grand Prix.”
  • A bid to set up a new Formula 2 feeder series from that would be in direct competition with the popular and successful GP2 series. “It is hoped this can be achieved within a budget of around €200,000 (about £160,000) a car per season.”
  • You can read the full text of the WMSC decisions, including new rules for the World Rally Championship, on the FIA website here.

It is being reported by The Times that “Mosley is aiming to enlarge the FIA’s role in deciding how much of the sport’s revenues go to the teams and is said to be aiming to increase annual payments to them by up to 25 per cent.

“Ecclestone is determined that the FIA should not interfere with the commercial side of the sport and believes that the European Commission would intervene if Mosley presses ahead.

“However, in recent days it has emerged that the FIA has taken soundings from the Commission about its role and claims it has received what amounts to a green light to proceed along the lines advocated by Mosley.”

Keith Collantine, writing on his F1Fanatic blog, said of the Formula 2 idea: “So, what we have here is a proposal that seems completely unrealistic and completely unnecessary.

“It seems to have been designed simply to provoke a reaction from Ecclestone. But the longer the FIA goes on making moves like this, the more realistic the prospect of F1 splitting into two becomes.

“That would be disastrous for Formula 1. Those who are pushing for a fight with Ecclestone should heed the lesson of the CART/IRL split that left open wheel racing in America almost mortally weakened.

“Anyone who would risk such a thing happening to F1 clearly is too preoccupied with their own selfish ends to be bothered about the consequences for sport.”

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