Formula One chief ’unconcerned’ by rift
Article mis en ligne le 20 avril 2009
dernière modification le 19 juin 2009

(CNN) — Formula One’s sole commercial rights holder and overall supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has dismissed the threat of eight of the sport’s ten competing teams to breakaway to form a new championship.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA chief Max Msley with much to ponder.

Ecclestone told the BBC : « I don’t think it will happen. I’m not concerned - Formula One has been going for 60 years and that won’t change anytime soon. »

When asked how he saw the crisis progressing the 78-year-old added : « I don’t know where we are at the moment so I don’t know where we’ll go. »

Ecclestone’s comments come after eight Formula One teams announced their intentions to create a breakaway championship following a financial dispute with the world governing body over a proposed budget cap for next season.

All eight teams - Ferrari, BMW-Sauber, Brawn GP, McLaren-Mercedes, Red Bull, Renault, Toro Rosso and Toyota - are members of the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA), who announced their plans in a press release after a meeting on Thursday.

The current crisis stems from controversial plans by the Max Mosley-led Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) to impose a budget cap of $60M for competing teams in 2010.

Though the FIA hope such plans will make the grid more balanced and easier for the smaller teams to compete successfully, FOTA complain the wishes of the majority of teams have been « ignored. »

« Furthermore, tens of millions of dollars have been withheld from many teams by the commercial rights holder, going back as far as 2006, » FOTA added in a statement.

« These teams therefore have no alternative other than to commence the preparation for a new championship which reflects the values of its participants and partners, » the statement continued.

The association said its series will « have transparent governance, one set of regulations, encourage more entrants and listen to the wishes of the fans, including offering lower prices for spectators worldwide, partners and other important stakeholders. »

Brawn GP’s Nick Fry, the chief executive of the team leading both the constructors’ and drivers’ championship, told the BBC : « We mean it - it was a difficult decision but we’ve negotiated with Bernie and the FIA in good faith and now it looks like we’ll do something different. »Some of the decision-making [regarding the governance of the sport] have been done without the consensus of those taking part, we’re not against the reduced costs but the cap is too low, " Fry added.

But Fry, whose Brawn team told CNN they had warmed to the FIA’s plans initially, was still convinced there would be F1 next season but was unsure of the « format. »

The FIA responded by issuing a statement on its Web site stating : « We are disappointed but not surprised by FOTA’s inability to reach a compromise in the best interests of the sport. »It is clear that elements within FOTA have sought this outcome throughout the negotiation and have not engaged in the discussions in good faith.

« The FIA cannot permit a financial arms race in the Championship nor can the FIA allow FOTA to dictate the rules of Formula One. »The deadline for unconditional entries to the 2010 FIA Formula World Championship will expire this evening. The 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship entry list will be announced tomorrow," the statement ended.

Currently only five teams have committed to racing in next season’s championship : Williams and Force India, who were expelled from FOTA for agreeing to participate, and new teams Campos GP, Manor F1 and Team US F1