Mercedes, Barcelona, 2012

Ecclestone “confident” Mercedes will sign Concorde

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Mercedes, Barcelona, 2012In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says he expects Mercedes to commit to F1 and sign the new Concorde Agreement.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ecclestone reveals Concorde Agreement (CNN)

“You’ll have to wait to see if Mercedes have [signed]. I’m confident that everything with Mercedes will be fine.”

Formula One: uphill race (FT – registration required)

“F1 is fairly simple: three income streams ?ǣ from race promotion, broadcasting, and advertising. Total revenue was $1.5bn last year; its earnings have been growing at a compound annual rate of over 9 per cent since 2003.”

Brabeck installed as F1 chair (Reuters)

“The motor racing series has been cleared to float on the stock market in Singapore but Brabeck, who chairs Swiss food group Nestle, said no final decision had been taken on whether to proceed with a listing that could value the business at some $10 billion.”

Lotus boss Dany Bahar suspended (Autocar)

“The confirmation follows an afternoon of speculation over Bahar?s future. Bahar was due to be at the Monaco Grand Prix today, but missed appointments at the event. Reports suggest he was instead called to Malaysia, where he was given news of his suspension.”

Brawn: No point in tyre complaints (Autosport)

“The difficulty is you have four tyres on the car and you go to a circuit like Barcelona where the left one is getting too hot and the right one is getting too cold, and that is down to track configuration. You need to work out how to get the tyres to work well together, and look at how the tyres work around the track to get the best balance.”

Monaco GP Diary (Sky)

“Best of all came in between the two: Tabac corner, where it’s possible to stand right by the apex of the left-hander as the cars flash past – little more than an arm’s length away it seems to me – at 120mph. These are the sorts of memories that linger.”

The magic of Monaco is not to be missed (BBC)

“Until the late 1970s, this was the place to watch F1 cars in action in Monaco. As the cars exited the right-hander that takes them in front of the Casino, the crest in the road would flick them sideways, the driver fighting the wheel to retain control. Cars at 30 degrees or more, grand Riviera hotel in the background – Monaco in a single frame.”

Bomb disposal expert called to F1 paddock for Monaco Grand Prix (The Guardian)

“It is the second time in successive years that a bomb disposal unit has been summoned to the paddock ahead of the Monaco race.”

Formula One fans rise: Hellmund vs. Circuit of the Americas in session, likely for a while (Autoweek)

“Aside from the Australian V8 Supercars event that supposedly is to run next season at the Circuit of the Americas – a series untested in the United States – the circuit has yet to sign any major motorsports series, such as NASCAR, IndyCar, Grand-Am or the American Le Mans Series. It seems likely that until the legal wrangling is resolved, major series might be wary of casting their lot with Circuit of the Americas.”

Circuit officials release traffic management plan for Austin F1 race (Austin-American Statesman)

“Most attendees of the first Austin Formula One race at the Circuit of the Americas in southeastern Travis County would arrive at the track in buses, a proposal submitted to county officials this week said.”

Revealed: The go-karting guru who helped Button become F1’s smooth operator (Daily Mail)

Jenson Button: “Dave [Spence] came on board and looked after me. He controlled me as well, my aggression, and that of my father, in difficult circumstances. The way he did that was by getting really angry himself!”

F1 Betting: Monaco Qualifying Preview (Unibet)

My latest column for Unibet.

Comment of the day

Lin1876 is going to watch the Indianapolis 500 for the first time on Sunday:

I?ve never actually watched an oval race in full before, but the races I?ve seen from IndyCar so far this season have been thrillers, so it?ll be interesting to see how this pans out on the oval.

Certainaly, this year?s race has the makings of a classic, and with Rubens and Jean Alesi, two of my all time favourite drivers, on the grid it should be good to watch.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Lustigson and Joe Papp!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

David Coulthard won the Monaco Grand Prix for McLaren ten years ago today.

He started from second on the grid but beat pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya into the first corner.

The Williams driver later retired with engine problems, leaving Michael Schumacher to finish second ahead of brother Ralf.

Here’s the start of the race:

Image ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei

Author information

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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  • 52 comments on “Ecclestone “confident” Mercedes will sign Concorde”

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      26th May 2012, 0:18

      I hope this is not a case of Bernie simply putting the agreement on the table and saying ‘sign it or don’t’. Obviously we don’t know what advantage, if any, Mercedes have now gained from further discussions. But if it’s not been changed at all to reflect their qualms with it then I would say this is a huge issue. For one it shows an inequality in bargaining power, which in extreme cases, could nullify a contract. I think the sport would suffer a great deal if Mercedes were to leave, especially if their engine supply went with them. I could see them leaving on a matter of principle. If they don’t it would just confirm to Bernie they had no power.

      Bernie seriously irritates me! I can’t wait for the day someone else takes the reigns, better or worse at least I won’t have to listen to that silly goblin and his money grubbing babel!

      1. I hope this is not a case of Bernie simply putting the agreement on the table and saying ‘sign it or don’t’.

        When has it ever been? It may appear that way at face value, but a lot goes on behind closed doors – and Bernie’s favourite trick is to start from an unrealistic position and bargain the other party down to what he actually wants.

        Take, for example, Silverstone. He wanted the BRDC to upgrade the circuit’s pit facilities, and the situation got so bad that he took the British Grand Prix away from them, stating that Silverstone would never hold the race again, and that if he was faced with a choice of Silverstone or nothing, he would take nothing. But when Donington Park fell through and the BRDC agreed to build an entirely new (and long-overdue) pit building, Bernie reinstated the race there – and gave them a seventeen year contract, when a standard circuit renewal contract is just seven years. This wasn’t a clever bit of negotiation by the BRDC; they were panicking that the British Grand Prix might be removed from the calendar entirely.

        In short, if you play nicely with Bernie, he can make it worth your while. In the case of Mercedes, I think a lot of their refusal to sign has been exaggerated, mostly by people who seem to think that they can somehow end Bernie’s reign of terror (ha!) by holding out and derailing the floatation. If they were actually able (and willing) to comment on it, I suspect that their dispute might rest with some of the finer points of the deal, rather than with the entire arrangement.

        1. But there, not only are you claiming that Bernie actually cares whether there is a British GP or not, and I believe he doesn’t (He didn’t care about the lack of a French GP). And you are also claiming, that there was never actually any intention to race at Donnington at all! (Which you are claiming, as a result of claiming that it was his plan all along to force Silverstone to upgrade their paddock.)

          if you play nicely with Bernie, he can make it worth your while.

          Umm… Yeah…

          Anyway, it’s been suggested that other big teams, are getting perks, similar to Ferrari’s old perk for being an old team. Except Merc are being left out, and don’t like it.

          1. claiming that Bernie actually cares whether there is a British GP or not, and I believe he doesn’t

            I was simply pointing out that when the BRDC refused to upgrade their pits, they lost the race. When they agreed to the upgrade, they got a contract that was more than twice as long the standard seven-year deal.

            1. Which is true, but you also tried to say how Bernie works, which is where I think you made an error.

        2. The fact is, Bernie only cares about what he wants and doess’t care who goes bankrupt.
          Same way he is treating Mercedes, he feels they are not important, since other teams have been allowed to make a land grab.

          1. You don’t know what Mercedes have been offered, so how can you comment on that? For all you know, Mercedes have been offered a stake in the sport like the others, but feel that it is not enough and want a bigger cut. For all you know, the offer made to Mercedes is quite reasonable, and they are over-stating their importance to the sport. We have no way of verifying who has been offered what, so your attitude reeks of “I don’t like Bernie, so whatever he does is wrong”.

            1. “I don’t like Bernie, so whatever he does is wrong”.

              Yep, Exactly what it sounds like, he may not be everybodys cup of tea but he has done more than any other individual for raising the profile of the sport. Sometimes peoples dismissive attitude towards Bernie verge on the disrespectful. He employs the same negatiating tactics as many business leaders who are lauded for their success, and he has often lent assistance to struggling teams.

      2. Its simply Bernie negotiating. On the one hand he now suddenly does think Mercedes have a value to the sport, but clearly he did not give them much in the sense of what they had wanted as a share (as its based on the team owner’s relatively short time in the sport – still its almost as long as Genii and half that of RBR).
        But I would say that he now needs to clear some points with the FIA, while Mercedes is playing silent but at the same possibly silently supporting Todt to rock the boat a bit and have a go at grabbing a bit of a nicer deal for the FIA.
        All this with that flotation in mind (Bernie also saying it might not go through, due to the slump in the markets, i.e. FB-debacle)

        1. (Bernie also saying it might not go through, due to the slump in the markets, i.e. FB-debacle)

          I think that’s mostly a case of Bernie being cautious. Facebook have made a lot of decisions – particularly related to advertising and profile security – that have made it very unpopular. It doesn’t surprise me that the company lost money by going public.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys ” Facebook………lost money by going public”
            Absolutely wrong, Facebook has lost nothing by going public, in fact they have gained billions of dollar, some investors have lost value since the float as the share price has fallen but not Facebook, you need get an understanding of business fundamentals if you are going to teach it

      3. @nick-uk Ditto. I don’t think the other teams would be keen to lose a competitor so I imagine Ecclestone could be persuaded if needs be. However, he’s all about bravado, so I’m sure he will concede if he needs to, though you’d never know about it.

    2. $30 entrance fee for Indianapolis ?! No wonder oval racing is so popular in the USA and no wonder they gave greedy Bernie the boot.

      1. You do realise that the money the circuit pay to FOM doesn’t go straight to a numbered Swiss bank account under the name “B. Ecclestone” … right?

        1. Yea, I know about half goes to the teams, the other bit goes to CVC who only get it because Bernie SOLD them the rights to a majority of his share. Half of income last year was $750 million, or $37.5 million per race, 12 teams have to share the other half, for building and developing a car and paying the drivers , engineers, pit crew, cooks and bottle washers etc.

          1. the other bit goes to CVC who only get it because Bernie SOLD them the rights to a majority of his share

            And he used that money to expand the sport. How else do you think Formula 1 has averaged one new Grand Prix per season of late? CVC is a venture capital firm. In exchange for a share in the sport, they invest in the sport. They are not investing in Bernie’s pockets. But because Bernie borrowed money from them to make it happen, he needs to repay them. The higher circuit fees are used to pay off the expansion of the sport. Bernie gets his cut, but he only gets a small percentage of the overall fee.

            1. You don’t really believe that it’s done for the love of the sport right?

              It’s all about profit.

            2. I never said that it was done for the love of the sport. Of course CVC invested in the sport to make a profit. That’s what investing is. But the proposal that got them interested was Bernie’s plans for expanding the sport, and since then, Formula 1 has grown at a race of one new race per year.

            3. Bernie doesn’t spend any money expanding the sport, all he does is drop one circuit and sell the rights to the highest bidder . The circuit owners are the ones that have to spend the money to build, maintain and promote their tracks, having spent that money they then have to pay FOM tens of millions of dollars for every event and are only allowed to keep the proceeds of the ticket sales and catering, FOM keep the all the advertising revenue and all the TV sales rights. This is why tickets to F1 race cost more than an all expenses paid holiday package.

            4. And before you come back at me that Bernie has to spend a lot of money traveling around the world signing deals and attending the races, yes, I’m sure he spends more on flying first class and staying in 5 star hotels than our combined incomes but that is not real money when you are talking Billion$ budgets.

            5. Finally, what expanded the sport was the ability to transmit the race live to TV sets all over the world via satellite and later the internet. Bernie just negotiated the contracts, at which he is very very good but not worth 50% of the take.

            6. Bernie doesn’t spend any money expanding the sport, all he does is drop one circuit and sell the rights to the highest bidder

              Do you honestly think CVC would have loaned money to him if they thought – as you so clearly do – that the money was going to go straight into Bernie’s bank account? They’re one of the biggest private equity firms in the world. They didn’t get to that position by making stupid mistakes like giving away $100 million to anyone who asks for it.

            7. As we all know, big financial institutions never make stupid mistakes.

            8. @estesark – Given the growth of the sport, would you say that investing in Formula 1 was a stupid decision?

              The money clearly hasn’t gone straight to Bernie’s pocket, as HoHum would like us all to believe.

            9. @prisoner-monkeys, please explain how Bernie/FOM and/or CVC did that

              And he used that money to expand the sport


              As far as I am aware (I do try to be solidly informed on this subject), the money goes mainly to repaying the debts taken on that financed CVC buying the franchise (with a portion going to salaries etc.). No sign of anyone putting any money in to grow the sport at all.

            10. the money goes mainly to repaying the debts taken on that financed CVC buying the franchise

              I’m not talking about that money. I’m talking about the money that was borrowed in the first place, establishing the debt you mentioned just now.

            11. @prisoner-monkeys – that money went to CVC to repay the money they loaned to buy FOM from Bernie/Bambino etc (including banks that owned some of what Kirch had owned), so that money ended up in Jersey accounts to whom Bernie and Bambino have access (if you call buying houses and having a lavish wedding party for Bernies doughters investment in the sport, you migth be rigth though)

          2. No, I wouldn’t say it was a stupid decision at all. I’d say it was an excellent decision. Not particularly fair on a lot of other stakeholders, but great for the investors. My point was that you can’t say they never make mistakes just because they’re a big company.

            1. @estesark

              My point was that you can’t say they never make mistakes just because they’re a big company.

              I’m not saying that either. I’m simply pointing out that whatever mistakes they might have made in the past, CVC are still a massive private equity group. HoHum would like us to believe that they are simply putting all their money in Bernie’s back pocket, but there is no way CVC would make a mistake like that. They didn’t get to where they are by making errors on that scale.

            2. @prisonermonkeys, I thought you taught business, CVC bought a controlling interest in F1 from Bernie, that is they paid him upfront, they did not loan him money to develop the sport, Bernie was kept on to manage the business. You are right about the money not going into a Swiss bank account, it is a Jersey bank account.

        2. Bernie is the negotiator for CVC, and F1 does not race anywhere without Bernie’s permission. If a circuit owner considers the attitude of the negotiator unacceptable, where the money goes following agreement is moot because the agreement won’t happen.

          1. As the owners of Indianapolis told Bernie they were no longer interested in F1.

    3. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910)
      26th May 2012, 0:55

      Hilarious commentary from James Allen :)

      1. @shaneb12345678910 It’s brilliant isn’t it?

        “Are you ready? Are your ready? Are you ready?” Traction control ready? Everything ready? drop the clutch and let’s gooooooooooooooo”

    4. Nick.UK (@)
      26th May 2012, 1:17

      @shaneb12345678910 YouTube Italy 2004, his start commentary there is brilliant. Sounds like Peter Griffin!

      1. Nick.UK (@)
        26th May 2012, 1:19

        You actually watch the whole race from this link! Well, until FOM remove it that is.

    5. It’ll be important for the Circuit of the Americas to gain acceptance in America, a nation which already has such fine circuits as Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen, and having F1 only will not be enough to do that. It needs to integrate itself withing the American scene, which will mean it has to be visited by both IndyCar and NASCAR at least.

      Will be interesting to see how V8 Supercars goes down in the US. Touring car racing has never got off the ground there, but the raw, almost NASCAR-like nature of V8 Supercars could change that. The major stumbling block that I see is that, like F1, the series’ stars are all foreign. Get NASCAR stars to make guest appearances and it could easily be a hit, but while it’s more likely than seeing Wii Power in an F1 race, there are still issues which would have to be resolved.

      F1 and the Circuit of the Americas will have to promote each other I feel. In both cases, penetrating the American racing establishment will be difficult.

      1. @lin1876 – VESA (V8 Supercars Australia) have promised that the race at the Circuit of the Americas will have a unique format to them, though they have not said anything more on the subject. The series currently features the Armour All 600, a race on the Gold Coast with international guest drivers in each car, but it’s a bit flat. All the guest drivers start the race and really just nurse the cars to the first round of pit stops when the regular drivers get into the cars and actually race. The teams mostly use this strategy because a) it’s a round of the series championship, and b) the international drivers aren’t quite as fast as the regulars (though Sebastien Bourdais has proved to be excellent).

        The series also has a provision for “wild card” entries, which allow teams to enter a car at selected events, though it’s usually ony limited to Bathurst. The system hasn’t worked, because VESA receive very few entries for the actual wild cards to begin with, and fewer still actually get them. But since the new regulations that are being introduced in 2013 mean that every car on the grid will need to be brand-new, it may be possible to build a few left-hand-drive cars converted to use imperial instead of metric, and then have American drivers race them. That would give them the best chance at success, but it would also be an expensive undertaking, unless those teams wanted to recruit American drivers to race at Sandown and Bathurst. Setting up an Australia vs. America grudge match would probably be the easiest way to sell the event.

        That said, I don’t think V8 Supercars needs an American driver competing at a race in America in order to survive. SPEED broadcast the Bathurst 1000 last year, and it was a very popular event – almost every account that I heard from America was very positive.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys It’s interesting the comparison between surviving and thriving, I feel. By that I mean that series like F1 and V8 Supercars all survive, but lack the mainstream following they enjoy in Europe and Australia respectively. There are, of course, various reasons for this, most notably the existance of two very strong domestic series in NASCAR and IndyCar.

          I think broadcasting on SPEED is the sign of a series survivng, as the nearest equivelant here is probably Motors TV. Great if you have it and are interested in its programming, but ultimately a niche channel for the vast majority of Americans. IndyCar, for example, is split between ABC and the NBC Sports Network, with the Indy 500 and a few others on ABC. If my knowledge of US TV is correct, that’s like being split between ITV and Sky Sports (and yes, I am very aware of the comparison to our F1 coverage, but it’s more clear cut than that).

          F1, already a niche sport in the US because of the lack of an American round (until later this year), will always get a very limited audience compared to IndyCar, and the only reason a major network (such as ABC or NBC) would be interested would be if either the costs were lower (dream on!) or there was an American driver to support, Mario Andretti style, which would increase public awareness of the sport. I have long argued that F1 needs a successful American driver, or at least a successful driver who is well known to the American public, to be successful.

          Everything I’ve said could equally apply to V8 Supercars, even if only the feature Bathurst race is covered on SPEED. Getting American drivers like Jeff Gordon (the only NASCAR name I can recount at this time of night), even as wildcards, into the series would be a major step forwards. Equally, your suggestion of an America vs Australia grudge match could also bring in the punters.

          1. your suggestion of an America vs Australia grudge match could also bring in the punters

            Well, by that I mean it should be marketed as a grudge match. The V8 Supercar grid has 28 cars, with a provision for 32 if all wildcards are entered. So, at most, you’d get four American drivers in the field. Maybe more, if some of the smaller teams were willing to run an American driver in place of their regular driver. Maybe they could get that number up to nine or ten (I don’t know if you follow the series, but of the current grid, Courtney, Douglas, Owen, Patrizi, Wall, Reindler and d’Alberto are all fairly expendable), but it’s not going to be some grand half-Australian, half-American grid. And the American drivers are instantly at a disadvantage because the cars are right-hand drive and we use metric rather than imperial.

            1. You’d have a lot of unhappy fans if you removed JC.

            2. He’s useless. Holden bought him for his number, and since then, he’s underperformed. I wouldn’t be surprised if HRT dropped him for Nick Percat in the near future.

            3. @prisonermonkeys, I don’t see the problem with metric/imperial, 7000 rpm is still 7000 rpm, the braking mark is still the braking mark. I accept a slight disadvantage in changing gear for a LHD trained driver having to use the left rather than right arm but it is negligible with a sequential gearchange.

      2. I’m an American F1 fan, and I loves me some V8S. When the US race is televised, I will do everything in my power to get everybody I know to watch it. The grudge match concept is interesting, but I think it’d only work if you stuck NASCAR drivers in the race. I’d kill to see that, though.

    6. Keith, I have to say your articles on Unibet are illuminating. Sure, any bet this season is either brave or foolhardy, but the predictions make for good reading.

    7. Does anybody know the best betting site for F1, or just have a preferred one?

      1. Unibet


    8. “F1 is fairly simple: three income streams – from race promotion, broadcasting, and advertising. Total revenue was $1.5bn last year; its earnings have been growing at a compound annual rate of over 9 per cent since 2003.”

      That’s a VERY attractive growth rate in the current climate – but what happens to that rate when the race calender is maxed out (probably in just 2 /3 races, at most)?

      1. Bernie is notorious for adding a 7% multiplier to circuit contracts from year to year. Each year, a circuit has to pay 7% extra on top of the previous year’s fee to continue hosting the race.

        1. The calendar has gone up 25% in terms of race numbers in 2003. So only getting 9% from that would be unimpressive, as it implies that each race is giving less money now than in 2003.

    9. I have very fond memories of the 2002 Monaco Grand Prix! DC drove a great defensive race and his car looked like it was set to fail at any second. Every time he went over a bump a puff of blue smoke came out from the rear and Schumacher was applying enormous pressure. I can’t remember a time when I was happier to see an F1 race finish!


      Brabeck installed as F1 chair

      That had me scratching my head. I feel so daft because I was thinking “Is this satire from Reuters?!”…

    10. I’m watching my first Indy 500 this weekend as well, can’t wait! I plan on being glued to the TV tomorrow :)

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