Ecclestone rattles his sabre again

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Bernie Ecclestone is not ready to step back from the risk of dragging F1 into civil war according to an interview in The Times (usually Ecclestone’s preferred newspaper for this sort of annuncement). He has again raised the possibility of F1 splitting from the FIA:

What the FIA doesn’t have, which is the most important thing for them, is an agreement with the teams which they would have with a Concorde Agreement. The teams can do what they like. At the moment what we are trying to do, to keep sponsors happy, is say we can’t break away, but it could well be that that will happen. There is no agreement between the teams and the FIA. There is a commercial agreement that has been signed by the teams and FOM, so the teams can do what they like.

According to The Times this is part of a larger interview which it appears has not been published in full yet.

Is this an empty threat or is Ecclestone serious? The teams have shown little interest in following him down the path of taking F1 away from the FIA.

Ecclestone also said: “The FIA has a clear, clear, clear agreement and signed agreement with the European Commission that they are the regulators of the sport. They are not anything to do with money.”

But is it not equally true that the same rules would prevent FOM, the commercial rights holders of Formula 1, from being responsible for its regulations? These are just some of the reasons why I find it hard to take Ecclestone’s threat seriously.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Ecclestone rattles his sabre again”

  1. Jonesracing82
    16th June 2008, 1:06

    if he wants to go kill the sport then go right ahead bernie!
    he should learn from the U.S counterparts, it took them 13yrs to work out that 2 series doesnt work!

  2. Jonesracing82, i don’t think there will be two series if, as stated, the teams are aligned with FOM and not the FIA.

    Unless some teams want an FIA run series and others don’t.

  3. Why should the teams meekly go with Bernie if the apple
    cart is upset?

    The teams, *if* they could organise unanimous
    action, could just form their own series and
    sell the rights. CVC paid the FIA, not the teams.

    The current scenario where the teams hold all the irreplacable true value and hard work, and FIA and Ecclestone control all the money and rights is intrinsically unstable. Only the teams mistrust
    of each other prevents their collective action.
    The collective behaviour of several teams (BMW/Toyota
    Mercedes) to censure Moseley should have set the alarm
    bells ringing at Ecclestone HQ. I was amazed he took
    so long to try to dump Moseley.

    Hearing Ecclestone admit that the teams are not locked
    in is music. At very least the old unsettled argument about distribution of the TV rights money will resurface
    the moment there is any organisational change…


  4. Why does everyone keep going on about 2 series and for example what you say Keith about FOM being prevented from regulating F1? If the teams walk away with Ecclestone, Formula 1 will cease to exist. End of story. Why? Because Bernie will go with the teams, and he owns the broadcast rights to the current series. The FIA will be left with little more than a rule book, and little else.

    Who will come in and replace the 10 teams that will leave to have their new series broadcast all over the world by Bernie? The answer? No one. Why? Because who will broadcast it? Bernie has already taken sides, with everyone who makes this formula what it is, the manufacturers and the teams.

    I don’t think the FOM will ever regulate a series directly. They will simply create an independent body to oversee this.

  5. Jonesracing82
    16th June 2008, 3:38

    there is a good chance of thier being 2 series!
    Ferrari wont leave FIA as they wont b so favoured in a new series!

  6. But I don’t think Ferrari would want to be a lame duck in F1. Trust me, they’ll follow the money – and as it stands, the money is with Bernie. Heck, they even called for Max to resign (although they took it back, I’ll trust the first thing they said – Freudian slip principle).

  7. I would say mind games it is all it is (at least for now). Bernie has to accept he is stuck with Mosley and all this noise is probably about making sure Mosley really goes after his term is up in 2009… Why would he risk the unknowns of breakaway when in a year or so he may have very FOM friendly new FIA boss ?

  8. I still think this is a carefully choreographed piece by Bernie and Max. Why else would Max keep so quiet about it?
    Of course the whole spanking affair was something that at least Max couldn’t have planned, but how this is all potentially working Bernie’s way right now makes me suspicious…

  9. empty threat i say.


  10. I love this quote of Bernie from the Times article you referenced Keith:

    “If Max comes back and says we should give more money to teams, I will tell him to mind his own bloody business.”

  11. Did anyone else pick up on this comment by Bernie in the same interview?

    ‘Ecclestone added that Jewish investors in Formula One are extremely unhappy. “The thing that worries me is that the Jewish community controls an awful lot of the finance which comes into Formula One, directly or indirectly,” he said. “They say the FIA shouldn’t let somebody like Max represent them.”‘

    Any thoughts? I certainly didn’t realise there was a substantial Jewish investment in F1. Or is Bernie simply pressing as many buttons as he can?

  12. Hmmm ITV have reported this same interview as Bernie trying to keep the whole shebang from falling apart (ie Good Old Bernie to the Rescue)
    But, I think Ferrari, Renault and Force India – and therefore GP2, are with Bernie whatever he decides to do.
    The likes of McLaren, Williams, BMW and Red Bull are fighting to gain control of the media rights etc from Bernie/FOM (hence no Concorde Agreement), and are more likely to want to split away, but aren’t powerful enough to do it by themselves, and would probably still want FIA affiliation.
    This is why I think Bernie keeps trying to change tack and get as many people on side as possible. He wants Max as a friend but not a boss. He wants to run F1 entirely, and is upset that all the teams aren’t backing him, and that the EU rules are against him and Max isn’t helping him either (even though I think he could offer Max a decent retirement plan)
    So instead of being in charge, Bernie finds himself having to pay attention to what other people (including the Jewish investors?) are telling him.
    And if he doesn’t sort it out soon, he may find some of the teams leaving to form a new series under the FIA, but without him!

  13. They hve both taken F1 to great heights and they will bring it crashing down before they depart the scene. The viewer does not care who controls F1 all we want is exciting racing.

    Msx as the head of the FIA will only make costs go higher believe it or not

  14. Keith, if it’s not too much to ask, how about an in-depth article over the FISA/FOCA wars 25 years ago? Bernie’s mentioned it (something about how the sport has been run like this for 25 yrs) and I guess what we’re seeing now is just a new chapter in that one.
    So, who aligned with whom, who won what, who lost, that kind of stuff, I think could really help us understand what’s going on.

  15. There is some great material on the FISA/FOCA war in Nigel Roebuck’s ‘Inside F1’ – which Keith has reviewed on this site:

  16. I might have a look at doing something on the FISA/FOCA war Diacho thanks for the idea – perhaps post it to the Skribit box on the right and I can judge how popular it is. Thanks!

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