Two teams call on EU to investigate F1

2015 F1 season

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Formula One faces the possibility of an investigation by the European Union after two teams lodged a complaint over anti-competitive practices within the sport.

Force India and Sauber have filed a complaint over how money is distributed within F1 and how its regulations are written.

Top teams get huge payments regardless of their results
Force India confirmed in a statement it is “one of two teams to have registered a complaint with the European Union questioning the governance of Formula One and showing that the system of dividing revenues and determining how Formula One’s rules are set is both unfair and unlawful”.

“Due to the ongoing legal discussions, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time,” it added.

Sauber said it had lodged its complaint “for violation of European Competition Law challenging the rule making powers and privileges, which are harming the sport”, and added it could not comment further.

An EU spokesperson confirmed the teams’ complaint has been received and is being assessed.

According to a report in The Times, the complaint alleges F1 has given favourable payments worth hundreds of millions of pounds to five teams – Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams – putting their rivals at a disadvantage. Their smaller rivals have been further undermined by being largely shut out of the rule-making Strategy Group.

Last year Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds urged EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager to consider whether “smaller teams have been treated unfairly” in F1 in the wake of the collapse of Caterham and near-collapse of Marussia, now Manor.

Dodds, who visited Force India’s factory in July this year, welcomed the news a formal complaint had been submitted.

“This will help us get to the bottom of whether or not there are anti-competitive practices at the heart of Formula One – practices which can have a real impact on people’s lives when they lead to teams going into administration and workers losing their jobs,” Dodds told F1 Fanatic.

“I have said before that I think it is appropriate to raise this with the commissioner, and I look forward to hearing what she has to say.”

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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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126 comments on “Two teams call on EU to investigate F1”

  1. Red Bull leaving, Honda/Ferrari complaining about the engine regulations. VW group not coming into F1 anytime soon. Pressuring Mercedes into supplying Red Bull by camera tricks. EU investigation into F1. Dropping viewing figures and sponsors walking away from the sport. Circuits like Silverstone, Monza not being able to pay the massive fees. Bernie has lost hit control completely and if anytime we need a complete rework of Formula 1 it is now. Things have been going down the same route for years now and the sport is suffering from it big time. Sometimes I wish things would collapse so we can rebuild from the ashes a championship that isn’t as warped as F1 is this day.

    1. You couldn’t be more right. -and for these reasons, I’ve started following the WEC. The diversity is brilliant.

      1. “WEC the diversity is brilliant” It’s the same thing, you simply don’t know this yet. At least there’s more than 2 competitors in f1, at least until the end of the year.

        1. I thought you’d have run out of anti-WEC FUD by now

    2. We all can do something. Boycott F1 for a couple of years. Do not go to any races and don’t subscribe. When the money dries up things will change. In a few years you can relate the tales of how the fans saved F1…. But I know that will never happen. People will continue spending as usual and complaining that things should magically change.

      1. I’ve already left.

        The Circuit of the Americas called and emailed me to ask why I won’t be at the 2015 race after attending each of the first three grand prix held there. I had to tell the young lady that Formula One has become boring and that the 458 Italia and 911 GT3 support races are far better than the F1 races they precede. I felt bad because Austin, Texas is such a great city.

        The last few years I have become a big fan of WEC, and I went to France this past June to attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

        Le Mans is an amazing spectacle! I was worried that I might not find a good place to sleep during the race, but I never needed sleep! I was awake for 41 straight hours. Nothing like the sound of Aston Martin Vantages blaring down the Mulsanne Straight and Corvettes thundering past you at Tertre Rouge to get your testosterone boiling.

        I agree that F1 needs to burn to the ground and rebuild. Hopefully someone young, with vision can restore F1 to its former glory.

    3. Formula 1 going down

    4. You are not alone in wishing sometimes F1 would collapse. It is really difficult to simply switch off and look indifferently after many years watching and talking about this what was a beautiful racing series. On the other hand, it is (at least for me) very hard to enjoy current F1 as I used to. I think it might be easier for more casual viewers than those who scheduled their grand prix weekends based on F1 and watched every single lap in interest whatever was happening on the track. I think sometimes it would be better to cancel 2016 season (which would be very likely even worse than this one) to get proper preparation for the following one to get it right and save some money.

      1. If you cancelled a season that would be no sponsorship income for the independents – Williams, McLaren, Force India, Sauber, Manor. How stupid and damaging to F1 would that be?

        1. And therein lies the problem @andy (whoever?) They knew what they were getting into, but because they were already in it they had no real choice.

    5. “Red Bull leaving, Honda/Ferrari complaining about the engine regulations.
      VW group not coming into F1 anytime soon.
      Pressuring Mercedes into supplying Red Bull by camera tricks.
      EU investigation into F1.
      Dropping viewing figures and sponsors walking away from the sport.
      Circuits like Silverstone, Monza not being able to pay the massive fees. ”

      The seven horses of the F1 apocalypse?

    6. Bernie’s plan to destroy f1 is working!

    7. When you do not pay attention to the business at hand someone will do it for you. This is a good thing and I personally am glad to see the smaller teams finally take action. It is, however, unfortunate that an untold amount of lawyers will be involved and RACING will rarely be mentioned or considered in the wake of the litigious and ridiculous proceedings for years to come before a solution / agreement is judicated. I am 75 and hope to live at least another 10 or 12 years which may not be long enough to see it through!!! If you think the various entities of FIA / F1 are inept just wait for some of the government’s ideas to come forth!!!! Thanks, Norris

    8. I know Honda have been critical of the regs, but I don’t recall any complaints from Ferrari?

  2. Mercedes and Ferrari bullying RBR, Sauber and FI putting a bomb under the whole thing…
    Oh dear. By the time that Sweet Little Mister E has finished chatting to the director of the feed ahead of the Russian GP we’ll only have shots of sponsors hoardings and late-arriving dignitaries to look forward to.

    1. Mercedes and Ferrari bullying RBR

      I think it is the other way around. Mercedes and Ferrari don’t have any obligation to supply PU to RBR.

      1. Mercedes and Ferrari don’t have an obligation to supply PUs to anyone, technically. But it would be a bit of an issue if they decided not to. Perhaps you’d think that would be ok, if they just decided not to supply power units to anyone other than their factory teams, and then that way we could have just four (three if Renault don’t buy out Lotus) teams on the grid. Is that the sort of scenario you’d like to see? Because Ferrari and Mercedes currently have the potential to create that situation if they feel so inclined, and by your logic they would be well justified in doing so.

        1. I am not saying that at all. But i don’t think Mercedes and Ferrari are “bullying” RBR. It is up to RBR to find a partner for its Power Unit, and at the moment it looks like RBR wants things its way by threat of leaving the sport. Anyway, this is an article about another story.

          1. Why would RBR not want things their way? They’re in F1 not just to take part but to try and win championships, and the only way they can do that is by going cap in hand to an existing engine supplier. Well, one of the two viable options anyway. Sure, Mercedes and Ferrari could refuse to supply them with a decent power unit. They have successfully lobbied for the rules to be changed, using their enhanced political influence, in a way which would allow them to do that. It’s a great masterstroke isn’t it – they can say “hey, we should change the rules so that we can supply cheap, old-spec power units to teams like Manor, to keep them in business!” but what they really mean is “hey, we should change the rules so that we can eliminate our strongest rivals by simply denying them access to current-spec technology!”. And of course RBR get frustrated by that – who wouldn’t? And of course they might think, well what’s the point in carrying on for the next five years when there’s literally no way we can win?

            To me, that smacks of bullying. I also think it perfectly highlights what’s wrong with the commercial and the governance structure of F1 at the moment. Two teams managing to use their enhanced political position to effectively kill off two other F1 teams. And the thing I find worst about it, is that people are actually defending their position, simply because it’s RBR. Imagine if they were doing the same thing to Williams? Well it’s only through personal choice that they don’t.

          2. It is up to RBR to find a partner for its Power Unit, and at the moment it looks like RBR wants things its way by threat of leaving the sport.


            RBR have/had an engine supply. They decided to bail out of that without having an alternative. It was their attempt to bully Merc or Ferrari into supplying them. Both of those teams have every right to say no. RBR are now trying (and succeeding in many case) to turn that around and demand an engine from one of them.

            In fact, they have an offer of engines for next year. It’s for an updated 2015 spec Ferrari engine, which they don’t want, but they do have an engine available.

            RBR have noone to blame but themselves for the predicament they find themselves in.

          3. petebaldwin (@)
            29th September 2015, 14:36


            And the thing I find worst about it, is that people are actually defending their position, simply because it’s RBR.

            Well said. I’ve responded to lots of these comments pointing out that if Honda don’t get their act together, this could be McLaren next and asked if they would respond in the same way if McLaren were potentially about to leave the sport because they couldn’t get an engine. Unsurprisingly, I haven’t had a single response to any of these comments over the last few weeks…

            The engines are too complicated for a smaller company to make and that leaves only larger companies like Mercedes and Honda or companies like Ferrari who have a long history of making F1 engines. Other than Mercedes, all have faced major issues with only Ferrari managing to get anywhere near close a year later.

            On top of that, the engines play way too big a part in F1 these days. On top of that, tyres are potentially the second biggest factor! Only then do you get into aero and driver input. I’m tired of races and championships being decided by what commercial deals you have managed to obtain.

            People have complained that Red Bull are quick to ask for good engines but are unwilling to share their aero with other teams. That’s because the aero parts haven’t come from a supplier – part of competing in F1 is to create and optimise these parts.

            Now obviously, the teams have the option to make their own engines but because of the complexity of them, it would not be cost effective. If all teams developed and built their own engines, most would be out of pocket even if they won the Constructors Title because they wouldn’t have anyone to sell any to. That means that F1 is basically reliant on some teams buying engines and other making them. Unfortunately, when teams start to refuse to sell engines to some teams or deliberately give them inferior equipment, the whole system falls apart.

        2. Here is the thing, people say that it is Ferrari bullying red bull, but to be honest, if a team goes to you and demands that you give them the same engine as you, and you feel that this puts you at risk of being slower than them overall, how could you possibly be inclined to do so.
          If red bull took a more collaborative approach and in some ways worked together (sharing information etc.) then it would benefit both parties. However doing business by demanding engine parity before a deal has even been done is a little premature. Nonetheless, it would be sad to see RBR and STR go.

      2. Missing the point completely. In BERNIE’S MIND at least they are and that’s why we didn’t see Merc at the last race. Since RBR didn’t get anywhere in talks with Ferrari at Suzuka it stands to reason that they’re now on his poo-list too. Sheesh!

      3. +1 I think they are called “Red Bullies” actually.

        1. I am sure Ferrari will supply the exact PU their customers get to Red Bull but not the exact as the works team which although same hardware would have different mapping and fuel. Red Bull were pushing for full equality but I doubt they seriously think that could happen and it should not but Ferrari went to the opposite end of the spectrum offering 2015 engine. This is classic negotiating starting off at extremes to then meet in the middle, Red Bull will have 2016 Ferrari PU but not the maps and fuel and this would be fare. If Red Bull refuse it would say to me they do not want to be in F1 and will use this as an excuse to leave.

          Anyway the EU should look into the funding issue why should teams financially benefit from past glories creating a glass ceiling to new teams preventing them from ever really getting better and achieving their own glories for future increased payments. It is currently a closed shop. Red Bull get loads of money but not so long ago they were a new team, why would someone want to attempt what Red Bull built up now it is a closed shop on prise money?

    2. Mercedes and Ferrari bullying rbr? OK. Rbr are like a bad pupil who gets kicked out of class and no other teacher will take them, rightfully so.

    3. Listen buddy,

      Red Bull has taken their ball and gone home, effectively. Furthermore, they’re DEMANDING they be given “works status” essentially. The engine manufacturer usually runs updated PUs in their own cars first before making them available to customers, and why shouldn’t they? Its an advantage, but its also a way to vet performance and reliability on-track.

      Mercedes AMG Petronas is Mercedes AMG Petronas’ works team. Ferrari is Ferrari’s works team. “Oh, sure, Red bull, come along with us!”

      You know what happened when Merc came back? McLaren weren’t the works team any more. I don’t recall hearing them threaten to pull out of the sport.

      What we’re looking at is a net loss of 2 cars, which as I understand it, means no 3-car teams because there will be 18 cars on the grid.

      Red Bull can take it, or leave.

      Grown businessmen acting like spoilt children. Unbelievable.

      1. @neuralfraud
        I have to agree. It was absolutely STUNNING to me when I listened to Horner and RBR slam Renault over and over and over publicly. They won four championships and never said the words Renault other than to imply that they had to develop their car to overcome the power deficit of Renault engines. They never mentioned that they had better fuel economy and packaging tradeoffs to allow them to be lighter and tighter for aero.
        Yes, Renault dropped the ball on the new engines, but it sure as hell didn’t help to publicly humiliate them every week and then to break the contract with no alternative in mind??? How can anyone possibly do anything but look at RBR and be embarrassed at the way they behaved the last 6 years. They got away with it while they were winning, but people don’t forget how you act when you’re on top.

        1. Red Bull should slate Renault. Renault embarrassed themselves. They lead the charge for the new V6 hybrids. They missed the boat last year, fair enough, but they missed the boat again this year. Not only did they miss it, they missed it by an even WIDER margin than last year.

          But even that wasn’t the last straw. Renault didn’t really put a plan in place to make it good. Look at something like Monza, they put a brand new engine in Ricciardo’s car and it lasts a lap or two then blows. This? In a formula that allows 4 engines for an entire season? And that was like the what, the 8th or 9th engine in the second half of the season? That is an embarrassment.

          People don’t mind slating drivers like Maldonado, but Renault is far far worse than PM has been.

          Renault is under staffed, under funded, and under expertised.

          Merc and Ferrari don’t want to sell an engine to RB because they fear they will get spanked in the WDC/WCC. How embarrassing would that be? Basically they are saying, RBR can build a better car than us.

          Fair enough, but at least own it.

          It should be noted that Mateschitz isn’t some billionaire dabbler in F1. He’s a long time supporter of the sport, and sports in general. He’s a racer, who races to win. And fans of F1 slag him? Wow.

          1. Fair enough, perhaps RBR do have reason to be upset at Renault, yes, they did miss the mark. Nonetheless, is it really that good an idea to tear up the contract early, knowing that they did not have a back up? They are clearly desperate for an engine, and fair enough, but in this situation it is a little unfair to pretty much demand an engine that is better than your own…or at least what they had.
            It would be a shame for them to leave, they are a great team with very talented people, passionate about racing, but we can’t make Merc and Ferrari out to be the “baddies”. They are looking out for their own interests, just like Red Bull. Noone is in the wrong here.

          2. For the first three years of the Merc factory team, McLaren beat them in the Constructors’ Championship; didn’t stop Merc supplying them engines. And before you mention the Honda thing, note that that was McLaren’s decision to switch.

  3. I’m wondering how much airtime Force India and Sauber will have at the next Grand Prix.

    Maybe we will end up with a situation that we only see Manor on tv because all the other teams have done “something bad” according to Bernie.

      1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
        29th September 2015, 12:47

        Or 1 hour of CGI messages – “Thank you Bernie”

        1. @coldfly
          “Think before your bribe” :)

    1. FlyingLobster27
      29th September 2015, 11:00

      Manor have also done something bad according to Bernie: they survived last winter. So Formula 1 is about to become a nature documentary on wildlife surrounding racetracks! XD

      1. So F1 in future would be broadcasted in Discovery or Nat

    2. Manor are doing something bad according to Bernie by just being on the grid…

  4. This is good news. Whether FOM’s payment structure can be proved unlawful or not is a matter of debate, but there’s no doubt that it’s completely unsporting and for that reason alone, it should be investigated.

    Formula 1 might have to go through a bit of pain yet, but hopefully this is the first step towards a fair sport and an end to Bernie’s manipulation of the teams. It’s been a long time coming.

    1. Although it would not be my preferred course of action (but that ship has sailed a long time ago, sadly), and most likely its the same for the teams, I agree that by now this is the best chance we have of seeing the largest issue in F1 – the way the rewards are divided up – get solved @bookoi

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        29th September 2015, 11:48

        @bascb – Unless a court physically says that Bernie HAS to act in an honest and fair way, he won’t. Even then he’ll probably just throw enough money at it so that it goes away.

        1. I don’t think the EU is likely to just go away for some money. They can make a nice exemplary case of it – even if they settle, that settlement would still be about the past, and include guidelines of how to redistribute power, because it would likely prove that the FIA did not keep to the agreed rules lined out over a decade ago after that first investigation by the EU @petebaldwin.

          Its not a court.

      2. I can’t believe Force India, Sauber, et al waited this long! They should have done this 3-4 years ago, but they kept hoping that “at the next meeting” things would magically get better.

        Bernie does NOT like poor people and only respects strength and power. They should have never rolled over and let him see them as weak in the first place. He has such distaste for poor (or even average) people that he has a hard time not showing it.

    2. EU has the power to force FOM change their payment structure.

      1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
        29th September 2015, 12:49

        And split-up responsibilities to stop future anti-competitive behaviour.

    3. If it came from the sporting body, the FIA, I would agree. But it doesn’t. It’s simply paying more to the teams that bring more viewers. ie: the revenue. Perfectly fair. What’s unfair is Ferrari earning as much as Force India, despite the huge difference in following and support. Ferrari helps bring in more of the revenue by being in the sport, so they should get a bigger cut. This model is everywhere in almost every industry. Add more value, earn more of the cut.

      1. The point of the complaint is that the FIA is violating agreements made in the 1990s after a previous investigation into the FIA and F1 @selbbin. The FIA was at the time found not to be an independent body ruling over the sport (because it also did the commercial side and therefore couldn’t guarantee being impartial), and this was what the deal between the FIA and FOM is based on.

        As the current agreements give the FIA a stake in the commercial rights, and on top installs something like a market disturbing oligopoly, the EU is fully in its power to renege the right of the FIA to govern over motorsports as such or install new provisions that will secure “fair competition” within motorsport and give more guarantees to indeed have an independent governing body.

        Lets also not forget that after it was the US that first took on that other huge sporting body, the EU could do with being tough on the case of another sporting body now to show its no pushover.

      2. As a Ferrari fan I have often said this but in current climate I think they can compromise as what’s the point of having the biggest share of nothing. Where would the next Ferrari come from? In 1950 if this current model existed Ferrari would never be able to fight ALFA ROMEO, Mercedes, Maserati…..

        The issue I believe is not the percentage share teams get it’s that no team gets the amount they deserve so even if the percentage spread remained with more money for all small teams would at least be able to be in a reasonable financial state. At the moment the small teams contribute but make a huge loss doing so. Thing is the total funds will not change so the current big earners will have to spread it out a little bit.

      3. @selbbin

        Ferrari earn extra money through merchandising. Their are university teams in the US that play American football that earn $400 million per year through merchandising to a local fan base. Ferrari get extra revenue through their supporters and through their car sales because F1 is frankly their marketing program. And there is nothing wrong with that.

        But to give them even more money from the F1 revenues just ensures that we never have a level playing field or one even remote. If you want to see successful leagues, then you have to look at the ones that provide a mechanism for the lower level teams to get better. F1 is the opposite. For people who like to see a juggernaut, that is fine. But it does not help the sport grow in the long run. Ferrari does just fine without crippling the competition. I’d be the Olympic 100m champion if I could force Bolt and the other competitors to run in army boots and to have poor nutrition because they had no money to train properly. But it would be a very hollow championship and frankly not one I’d be interested in winning.

        Wow, so Ferrari can spend $300M+ and beat teams with a $40M budget? My heroes! And they have Bernie making sure it stays that way.

        This is simply opinion so your opinion is as valid as mine, but I do not agree with you.

        1. Ferrari get extra revenue through their supporters and through their car sales because F1 is frankly their marketing program.


          Ferrari, the only team to have competed every race since the sport began, a team that was built up by hard work and passion for cars/motor racing. Compared with teams founded recently, just through financial means for advertising the brand, how can you say that Ferrari is in F1 simply for the marketing program.

          Teams like Ferrari receive large sums (while arguably/certainly unfair proportionally) because of the history they have, and the name built for themselves.

          The emotional value that Ferrari brings to the sport is immense, and the passion they have for the sport is incredible.

          1. He’s not entirely incorrect; Ferrari started making road cars in order to fund their racing programme.

          2. Exactly, Ferrari began to build road cars so that they could go racing. They did not go racing to fund or promote their road cars.

  5. It’s ok, Bernie can buy his way out of the court case again.

  6. The on-track health of the sport is poor, and the off-track health is even poorer. Those who make the rules cannot seem to do anything right, and we are losing teams left, right and centre – and even facing the prospect of losing a top team (and with it, arguably the four most exciting drivers on the grid). Drivers, teams, fans, sponsors and TV companies being put off F1 more and more should be sending serious alarm bells, but it hasn’t done so far. However, I am glad to see some sort of revolt from some of the smaller teams as this could well be the wake-up call needed for something to be done. Hats off to Force India and Sauber for standing their ground, despite being dwarfed in power by the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.

    1. TV companies are being put off it? Free to air is losing it because paywalls are forking over BILLIONS for the rights and free to air can’t compete. They WANT it.

      And this on track argument is getting very lame. It’s fine. Recent comparisons, including those by Will Buxton, highlight how silly and tiring the whinging really is becoming.

      F1 is not losing teams ‘left and right’. Renault is coming back. Haas is coming in. So what if RBR quit? So we have 18 cars for a year. The starting Grid has been around 20 many times in the 60s and 70s. 1962 Dutch GP. 20 starters. 1973 Agrentinian GP, 19 starters. 1997, 11 teams. 2003, 10 teams. back when there were lots of teams in the 80s many were small with a single entry that couldn’t even qualify, let alone compete. Through the history of F1 small teams have languished at the back or worked their way up. Williams didn’t start at the front. Neither did RBR or even Mercedes. Few cars were competitive and many teams went through phases of domination with single, or few, real competitors. Besides, having lots of teams does not = competition or excitement. 1988 had 18 teams and 36 drivers. McLaren still mauled everyone.

      I could go on but there’s no point. These ‘dire times’ cries are just annoying.

      Losing Monza, the german GP and Silverstone however ARE critical issues.

      1. TV companies are being put off it? Free to air is losing it because paywalls are forking over BILLIONS for the rights and free to air can’t compete. They WANT it.

        There is a more fundamental problem with pay-TV: these billions they are paying FOM aren’t repassed in full to the teams – half of it will go to CVC, and with less eyeballs watching F1 now that it’s behind a paywall, there is less return on investment for sponsors, decreasing sponsorship value and thus hurting the teams. The only ones who benefited from it are CVC, and free-to-air broadcasters being put off in key markets is a serious issue.

        1. For the commercial rights holders and investors, Formula 1 in and of itself is not a business. How else could sane investors say, “no, we don’t want Formula 1 to get greater exposure by showing people even short clips on Youtube”? Bernie makes his money from tracks paying him, track sponsors paying him (remember, the track owners are allowed ZERO on-track sponsorship), and broadcasters paying him. He and CVC could care less how many seats get filled at the individual tracks, since he’s already gotten his payday by that point. It’s only when CVC has squeezed the tracks and teams to the breaking point that he steps in and says, “well gosh, this is a real shame, something ought to be done!”

          It’s amazing when you think that if the track owners took Gary Hartstein’s advice and formed a cartel, they’d probably immediately get whacked by the EU, but Bernie has gotten away with what is practically extortion for decades now.

  7. Force India, Sauber should be prepared for the Bernie’s wrath.

    1. yes, that is probably why they took their time to put in a complaint @illusive. As mentioned above, surely them not being shown on TV for the next few races will be purely coincidence …

    2. I am not so sure. Everyone will be monitoring the TV pictures closely now (particularly after the last weekend) and the future of several other teams is unclear so now is probably not the best time to show who the boss is.

      1. @girts surely there are other ways to show the displeasure for this act. Its important that the investigation and its proceedings are done swiftly, lot of people’s interest in this case should also help the case.

        The important thing to note is, teams like Force India and Sauber have been struggling for finances for a long time anyway, its either go down quietly or go down fighting.

  8. In an ideal world it would be good to have F1 as a pure sport (rather than the current WWF) in terms of sharing prize monies and stable rules with independent TV coverage. With RB and Ferrari taking Bernie’s shekels and consequent demise of FOTA, this was the inevitable outcome – perhaps a few years late. Now (with a lot of teams on life support) is probably the best opportunity to get rid of CVC, Bernie, current FIA and start all over again.

    This way at least we can keep the historical circuits as a centre of the world circus and we will get more manufacturers joining in, as long as CVC and Bernie are out and also FIA (all the ex Moseley lackeys).

  9. Finally………..that took ages.

    1. I wonder which is worse – Sepp Blatter of Ernie Ecclestone?

      1. It’s actually a really fair question but I think Blatter might be slightly worse…

        1. Oh, definitely Blatter. When Bernie sells a sporting event over to a corrupt government, he at least doesn’t pretend it was done through some democratic process.

          1. Yeah, they’re both disgusting…but you have the right of it. Bernie is openly disgusting while Sepp pretends to be benevolent when he speaks. So one is a politician, bully and a crook while Bernie is just a bully and a crook.

          2. Bernie is much worse IMO. Blatter only rigged where the tournaments were held and organised bribes for himself and his cronies.
            He didn’t change the rules of football and set the teams on an unfair playing field. Football is still healthy. You don’t hear about countries not participating because they can’t afford it. The small teams can still compete with the big ones.
            Unlike in F1 where Bernie has turn a sport into a circus. All for his own gain. Trying to squeeze every last drop out of it. So much so he uses bullying tactics to keep teams in line. Recent Mercedes-Benz TV time issue for example.
            I don’t like saying this (and I know I’ll get loads of comments disagreeing) but the day Bernie dies will be a good day for F1.

  10. If I recall each team negotiates a deal which falls under the Concorde agreement, so if that’s the way it’s done, I can’t see how they can argue that it’s unfair that Ferrari for example negotiated a better deal than they did. I also don’t see how Force India can complain about things being unfair when it was like that when they signed on.

    1. There is no Concorde agreement. They reference the Concorde columns but the agreement itself doesn’t exist, hence there are separate commercial terms for each team, some of which are massively favourable. Some teams will receive more prize money than others for equal results. That’s unfair, and these commercial agreements were used by the CRH to leverage teams against one another and break up FOTA. The teams were complicit and share their part of the blame, but ultimately it has created a situation where those who have historically been most successful will receive a greater slice of the pie both commercially and politically, ensuring that they can protect their position at the top of the time sheets. Exactly how Ferrari and Mercedes are doing by denying access to their top spec power units for customers.

      The issue is that this is effecticaly an illegal, anti-competitive practice which the EU can stop.

    2. Nobody is forcing them to be in F1 that’s true. But then nobody is forcing any business to be in its business.

  11. Oh it’s on now! The plot just continues to thicken

  12. Unfortunately the EU investigation could take years, and steps need to be taken now! It is up to the big teams and CVC to give up some of their big shares to the smaller teams. This should be the shortest path but very unprobable to happen :(.

  13. Huge respect to Force India and Sauber for risking their necks by taking on the poison dwarf. No doubt Ecclestone will use his financial muscle to buy an army of lawyers and lobbyists to block any attempts to prise F1 from his grasp. I’m sure any neutral EU investigator will be flabbergasted to find out what’s passed for governance in one of the world’s major sports series. Let’s hope they do a proper job and F1 can start again with a clean state and fair competition. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  14. It was about time. They probably have deliberately chosen this week to file the complaint as F1 is too busy surviving to punish them right now.

    No matter if they succeed in the court or not, I hope that this will somehow lead to more fairness in the sport and more chances for small teams to survive and occasionally take the fight to the big guys.

    1. @girts I guess with the prospect of TR and RBR disappearing, along with the Renault/Lotus deal still looking decidedly ropey, the last thing FOM want right now is to put another two teams’ position in danger. Especially two with such great histories as Sauber and Force India.

      1. @mazdachris Agreed, it is always hard to know or understand what Ecclestone does behind the scenes but I think that now it would make more sense for him to hand out some carrots than use a stick.

    2. Its not a court case @girts, its a call to investigate just like the investigations that forced Microsoft to offer competing browsers or the one that Google is now facing over misusing their dominant search engine position, or indeed like the one the FIA faced that forced it to split the commercial side and the regulatory side of F1 in the 1990s.

      Agree on hoping that this will help reshuffle the deck so that the rules are determined independently and the rewards are shared more reasonably (the cut for the CRH should not be more than 5-25%, a more viable split that enables established teams an operating budget from TV money and also allowing more room for tracks to invest in improvements)

      1. @bascb Thank you very much for pointing that out, my bad.

        Indeed, there is just so much money in our sport that it should feel kind of awkward to read the phrase “financial struggles” in connection with F1. On the other hand, F1 is not alone in that regard, I believe that many millionaires & billionaires get even richer during financial crisis.

        1. Yeah, personally I think that money is hugely overvalued and a huge part of it could be cut out of the “market” to make things work better.

  15. Boxers and tennis players get higher appearance fees based on their success and following. Same for members of sportsteams. It isn’t the FIA paying them, the sporting body, it’s FOM, the TV show body, so it’s an entertainment payment, not a sporting payment. That’s like complaining that some teams get more sponsorship! These are viewing fees, and the teams people want to view should get more. It’s perfectly reasonable for the teams who pull the crowds and viewers to get extra money to make sure they can continue. Barely anyone comes to a race or tunes in because they are a die-hard Force India fan, while millions tune in to watch how Ferrari does. Yes, we need those cars on the grid, and they make it work through sponsorship and payments based on success. But that’s still from FOM, not FIA, so it isn’t ‘anti-competition’ as it’s not from the competition body.

    The only team short-changed really is Sauber. They should get more for being around for 20 years, unlike RBR, but then again, how many Sauber flags to you see at Silverstone? Teams have come and gone for decades, and there were 3 teams who applied last year, and starting grids have often been around 20, so while it looks grim, it really isn’t. And again, yes, I know we need the teams and don’t want a grid of 10, but they DO get money, and paying Ferrari more than Manor because of their draw to the sport is fair. It’s money from viewing rights, and they bring in the most viewers.

    1. It is anti-competitive because, unlike Tennis and Boxing, the performance of an F1 team is directly linked to the amount of money it has. So by providing more money to one team than another for an equal result gives that team a competitive advantage, or puts another at a disadvantage. Bear in mind this complaint is also about the Strategy Group and its position of influence when it comes to regulations. Not only are the richest teams most richly rewarded, they also have the biggest say in how the rules are structured in future.

      1. So… like football teams. Salary caps there don’t work. Players just get paid in other ways.

    2. All teams should share the pot of money equally. Any extra cash should cone from the teams sponsors, merchandising, etc. That way the top teams will make more cash and the smaller teams will survive and maybe grow into something bigger.

    3. As @mazdachris mentions, the current rule making structure itself is empowering some competitors over others. In effect the complaint wouldn’t be primarily against FOM but against the FIA @selbbin.

      The FIA was confirmed to remain the governing body for motorsport based on the agreement with the EU that they would seperate the rule making and commercial side. That is the foundation that allowed BE to even be the commercial rights holder.
      If the FIA loses its position (because of the strategy group, and allowing huge “historical” fees to some teams that are tied to their privileged position AND the FIA taking a shareholding in FOM that was also part of the same deals), then the contract FOM has with the FIA is irrelevant because there is no right they can grant anymore.

      The biggest issue in F1 is the cost to participate vs. how the rewards are shared. Not just for the teams that are not in the “priviledged” group but the also for the tracks.

      1. They still get prize money. This is just about the extra bonus payment for being a drawcard.

        1. Its not “just about” some teams, selected on arbitrary reasoning getting more money regardless of where they finish @selbbin.

          If you look at the main point in the complaint the structure of how the FIA is currently governing F1, including the rule making process (i.e. strategy group) is being questioned too.
          Both things together make it neigh impossible to have a fair competitive chance if you are not part of that privileged group that gets extra chunks of money AND determine the rules.

      2. @bascb It’s even worse than that though when you start to look at it. Not only does FOM control both the rewards given to the teams and the level of political clout they are allowed, they have also taken control of just about every single monetizable element of Formula One, making it almost impossible for teams to offer any genuine value to their sponsors. Every inch of banner and board space at tracks is given over to FOM’s commercial affiliates. Freight, accomodation, all controlled and re-sold to the teams by FOM, at a significant mark-up. All used as a means of leveraging power against teams who fail to capitulate with the whims of Ecclestone. We’ve already seen the infamous “visiting dignitaries and glamorous ladies” message sent by Ecclestone to the teams, and there are stories about how passes and hospitality are increasingly restricted by FOM, making it harder for teams and tracks to offer an experience to their affiliates. Now we see that their sponsors are marginalised even more by deliberately restricting TV coverage.

        The whole thing is utterly rotten and corrupt. While the top teams do share a burden of blame for agreeing to terms, it’s not hard to see why they would do that against such a backdrop of bullying. Bullying and greed which has seen us arrive today at a point where nearly half the grid are having to assess their participation in the sport, and only one viable entrant waiting to join.

  16. I will try to calculate the screen time percentage shared by FI and Sauber in the next races; should not be that difficult. What if they somehow manage to get on podium though !!?

    1. I’m sure President Putin will be able to call up a tank or two, plus a few fighter jets.

    2. Long live F1

      Coincidence?? I wrote this comment earlier today on the Vote for your 2015 Japanese Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend page. Appears so spooky now.


      But I am a pessimist.

  17. Good for them. I hope the EU takes the sport to the cleaners.

    So, that’s Manor (long-standing thing with Bernie), Mercedes (said “no” to Red Bull), Ferrari (playing hardball with Red Bull), Sauber (traitors) and Force India (also traitors) who Bernie will ask the TV director to avoid showing during the race. I’m sure they will be able to find lots of pretty WAGs and random female spectators to focus on in the next race instead.

    At the rate we’re going, the race coverage won’t show a single car.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      29th September 2015, 11:56

      @jules-winfield – You’re aware where the next GP is? This just allows more time for FOM to show Bernie and his slightly less evil sidekick.

      1. Yeah, I guess we will get even more time to see Bernie and Vlad hugging, kissing and holding hands enough that it wouldn’t normally be allowed to be shown on Russian TV @petebaldwin, @jules-winfield

  18. petebaldwin (@)
    29th September 2015, 11:54

    Well done Force India and Sauber. This is the single biggest thing anyone has done for the sport in the last 10 years.

    I know Bernie will buy whatever decision he wants to come out of this and things will carry on as they are but at least someone is doing something. I’ve always wondered why people say the power is all with Bernie when in reality, if the teams actually wanted him gone, they could all just go on strike until he was gone. Without the teams, Bernie has nothing.

    1. I’ve always wondered why people say the power is all with Bernie when in reality, if the teams actually wanted him gone, they could all just go on strike until he was gone.

      No, 8 would agree and then you’d have the F1 World Championship between 6 Red Bull teams and 4 Ferrari. Divide and conquer is how we got into this mess, and why participants should have no say in rule making.

    2. Because Bernie doesn’t make the rules. The FIA does. Bernie just sells the hosting and TV rights. He wants the v8s back, remember. If he had that much power, they would be.

      1. actually one of the points the complaint covers is that its not really the FIA (or FOM) who determine the rules, but a few of the competitors actually get a significant say in the rules which helps distort competition.

        1. Of course they would say that, because that’s how they get the EU to do their negotiating for them.

          In reality, the teams at best have more of an advising capacity. They don’t even have enough votes to get anything done in the strategy workgroup. Ultimately it’s the FIA which decides which proposals from the strategy group are accepted.

          1. It is true that the teams are not the only decision makers @patrickl, and they do need either Bernie or the FIA to vote for things they want to push through.
            Have you seen any of these things the strategy group agreed on been even discussed in the WMSC before being voted through? In reality the FIA can only rubber-stamp those proposals in the WMSC,

          2. Doesn’t matter if FIA haven’t used their, effectively, veto-power before or not. The way it’s organized means that FIA are the ones determining the rule.

            Either way we all know that they really only care about the bonus FOM money for the “historic” teans. They want their hands on a piece of that.

    3. Yeah Force India are in no way unethical in their approach to getting extra money and in no way tried to block Manor competing this year to get a hand on Manor’s prize money.

      Sauber in no way signed up 4 drivers with 2 spaces available to do 2 drivers out of their money.

      They are all the same they just do not have the power to cast their cash grabbing natures too far. At the end of the day where ever you find lots of money their will be people and organisations pushing to get the most, there are no charities in F1 or Mother Theresa figures just small, medium and large blood suckers, that is how it always was and always will be.

      1. Exactly, this is just another money grabbing attempt from FI and Monisha.

        Bernie will be very happy that he bailed Sauber out several times lately.

  19. It’s a good job there’s no way a vindictive organiser could destroy the value of these teams by severely limiting their TV exposure, thus ruining their sponsorship pitches!

    Oh, wait.

  20. While I agree with Bernie that the teams that get the best results should receive the biggest financial reward, the financial structures of other sports with global appeal like the English Premier League manage this in a much better way. There is a recognition from the EPL that the league is only healthy while all its teams are healthy, so the distribution of revenue is significantly flatter. Add to that the concept of “parachute payments” which get made to teams that get relegated (in order to assist them to get back up) and you have a structure that is both sporting and commercially viable.

    F1’s structure is mental. There is more than enough cash flowing through the sport to maintain all 10 (11 including Haas) of the current teams but the preferential deals offered to the big 5 really do put a substantial hit into the amount of cash available for distribution. The trouble with the structure is that it has now in place for so long that no one who gets additional cash will be willing to give it up. We’ve come to far and it needs something like this challenge to sort the system out. Further, the attitude of the bigger teams (F1 is nothing without us, we’ll just leave if we don’t get our way etc…) means that nothing can ever get agreed so smaller squads will fall by the wayside while they bicker. While that may be regarded as sporting natural selection, when teams that are good enough to get podiums and finish comfortably in the top 10 of the championship can’t even get access to their hospitality suites due to unpaid debts, something is seriously wrong. Fans want a full grid, this is clear. Fan’s reactions during the Australian GP when only a handful of cars were circulating proves this. Fan’s reaction to Caterham folding and Manor being resurrected proves this. I just wish the powers that be could see that trying to protect their short term, self serving interests is doing the sport serious damage. If they carry on this way, there may not be a sport for them to compete in.

    1. FOM mostly rewards the teams that present most value to them in selling the TV rights.

      The Red Bull deal is bad though because they got a bribe for sticking a knife in the back of FOTA which basically was like the union of F1.

      1. Actually FOM mostly rewards itself, and that is the root of the problem.

        1. exactly @hohum. A huge amount goes out of the sport this way instead of flowing back in to support the participants or racing in general.

        2. That has nothing to do with this case at all. It’s not even FOM making the money it’s their financiers making the money.

          That’s just the way the deal was structured to help Ecclestone cash out. Nothing the EU will look at will have anything to say about “solving” that.

          They should have imprisoned Mosley perhaps, but if they had proof of the wrongdoings that accompanied his deal with Ecclestone then he would be in jail already.

  21. Formula 1 going down

  22. RBR needs an engine partner but has thrown their previous partner under the bus. That’s one good reason not to partner with any organization

    RBR are asking for a werks spec engine but everyone knows they’re trying to court VW into making in engine within the next two years. Why would any engine source let any one see their best work knowing it will be examined and used to jump start a competitors engine program?

    I think RBR’s petulant childlike behavior shows they have grossly overestimated how important they are in the grand scheme of things. They are still a young team regardless of how many WC’s they won.

    One of two things will happen:

    1. They get no engine deal and they leave F1. This is unlikely due to the massive penalties related to this path.

    2. They shut up and take whatever is given to them knowing the next two seasons will see them deep in the midfield. Then get to work on the new Audi engine with VW for 2018. This is what Chris Horner alluded to during recent interviews. He just going to have conceive Heir Fizzy Drink to do this.

    1. You know, RB should try to approach Mercedes again… Just ask for 2015 specs engine. Thats better than 2016 Renault… and that should give them a good chance to stay at the front pack… that would give them a few years to look for another partner.

      Having said that, Renault is buying into Lotus. Looks like Renault has found a solution to its engine problem for next year. Renault engine might not be so bad next year.

  23. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    29th September 2015, 13:50

    For the first time the threat of total collapse seems positively likely.
    Looking down the grid there is more teams with major problems than without.

    I for one hope it happens. This sport is so broken and corrupt a clean death might be a good thing.

    A year on the naughty step might help the FIA figure out their prioities, and finally rid us of Bernie and the venture capitalist who have robbed the independent race teams like FI and Sauber of their fair share of income; to the point where they can barely turn up, let alone hope to compete.

  24. I haven’t seen much detail about the complaint, but frankly, I doubt that the European Commission would decide to intervene here. Competition law exists to protect consumers, not individual competitors. The European Commission will not be able to guarantee a level playing field just for the sake of it. Only if it can be shown somehow that consumers are harmed by the actions of FIA or FOM would there be a reason to investigate this further. But who knows, maybe they found a way to make the (very real) issue they face a competition law case.

    A more interesting story would be Red Bull complaining about anti-competitive foreclosure by Mercedes and Ferrari – the latter control a crucial input the former need (power unit), and they all compete with each other “downstream” (with the whole car). Red Bull could argue that Mercedes (or Ferrari) are dominant and are refusing to supply them with their dominant upstream product in order to cement their market position downstream. This would be much closer to the usual competition cases the European Commission tends to investigate.

  25. Yes! Its about time. Leeches and crooks sucking the sport dry need to go. Now!

  26. Now all they have to do is survive another eight years to see if anything comes of it…

    1. Not with my audience, I must say. I hope EU does something to clean the corruption in this sport, because it IS, simply put, false advertising to sell it as a competition when a point gained have different values depending on who got it, when a small group, already priviledged with bigger shares of an already expensive activity, makes rules to turn it even more expensive. The center of uncompetitiveness is the Strategy Group´s governance, which go in parallel to the money shares. In the past there was the possibility of a small team to call the attntion af a medium sponsor and get some success (Toleman-Benetton is an example). Today this is impossible: the bets went so high that only very big corporations can run such a risk. Let Bernie watch a grid with 4 Ferraris, 4 Mercedes and a couple of underdogs. I won´t.

  27. Agree with a lot of what’s been said on this topic. But I just wonder…what has changed in F1 regarding this aspect of F1? For me the only thing that is different now is that we are still in a global recession which is what is really making it harder for smaller teams to survive compared to the past. Teams’ ability to get money from other sources and not depend as heavily as they have til now on F1 money, has diminished. In other words, aren’t FI and Sauber getting the agreed upon amount? Have they had that amount decreased by the bigger teams/F1/FIA? I’m assuming the answer is no, but now they want/need more. And perhaps rightfully so. But I think that is as much due to external forces than internal.

    I fully understand the gripe they have about the bigger teams setting the rules, but are the bigger teams setting the amounts the smaller teams are getting? I’d sure be surprised. So in that sense I think FI and Sauber won’t have a leg to stand on in terms of the agreed upon amount they get from F1. But on the rules and regulations? Sure they might have a case there. They can argue the bigger teams’ sway has seen F1 evolve out of their financial reach.

    So I’m not trying to say it’s right that the smaller teams get x amount and it’s now insufficient, but how much would be enough? Especially to satisfy a union, in this case the EU. Everyone with a god-given right to be competitive even when they haven’t managed to keep themselves afloat in what they always knew was an expensive venture.

    I’m not convinced yet that the big teams are ready to make ‘sacrifices’ (take a little less) for the overall good of the sport, but ideally I think they need to get back to basics, improve the product on the track to attract more audience, and that is what will really help the smaller teams to help themselves. I’d much rather see that than see smaller teams only survive because they are dependent on more and more hand-outs because they should somehow be guaranteed a living now that the free market is tighter with it’s cash.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m fine with FI and Sauber et al getting more because I know the money is there within F1, but I just think the direction for parity needs to be to make F1 more affordable, jig the regs to make the racing closer for more audience, and then let the free market decide who is worthy of what attention, rather than us watching some teams only out there because they are in the pockets of F1 beyond what they have earned.

    Some leagues that aren’t needing to spend hundreds of millions on equipment and are strictly about the athletes not the gear, use salary caps, and when you come in last as a team you get the top first-round draft picks, which helps the league overall have fairly competitive teams across the board. But there’s no avoiding the high costs of gear in F1 but they can be diminished. And yes maybe it is finally time to address the new economic reality of the globe now that we see it hasn’t recovered nearly like we thought it would when it started back in 08. I just want to see the overall result be smaller teams able to survive and thrive relatively on their own again rather than just being there because of good money after bad. That has to be guarded against too. At least we aren’t back in the MS/Ferrari era where it was one team that controlled F1 for one driver, because Max and Bernie wanted that, with smaller teams at least having a reasonable go using sponsor money they were able to glean from a stronger free market, which masked what Ferrari got away with.

  28. This could be very good timing for an investigation into F1’s finances simply because of the football (soccer) problems with FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter. The European masses prefer football and they are primed for investigations into corruption within sports – journalists will find the F1 news easier to get on the back pages. We may see some more serious pressure within Europe for a solution to anti-competitive practices in sports.

    … Okay, I’m an optimist.

  29. I’m very glad to this. I support them!

  30. SFI lived of Bernie through their financial difficulties but after having to pay for this help on the track I think it’s great that SFI has turned on F1. It’s SFI’s last hurrah, since SFI is almost solvent, as is Manor and Sauber.

  31. There aren’t anywhere else to raise our concern in regard to this, so I suppose I take a few minuets to list out the problems and hopefully someone who can make a difference would read this….

    I have heard there are many problems in F1 raised by almost everyone over the past few years and I am sure that all of you have heard about it. I tell you frankly, we should look at the ultimate problem, the core problem of F1, that is the relevancy of technology. There isn’t a proper link between the innovation of F1 and commercial vehicle manufactured everyday. I can see Kers have been applied to some vehicle, I dont see any particular success story, P1 is fast but it aren’t really bringing the cashflow to Mclaren to over the cost of it and the Prius is the worst invention of modern history.

    When was the last time an F1 engine technology applied to daily vehicle? really? I haven’t yet seen a Vehicle with MGUK -H etc… V6 is the right way to go (beside it soundslike a vacuum cleaner) but teams need to be able to profit from the innovation thats introduced in F1 to pay off their cost. Who needs cost saving if we can make money out of the development of vehicle? All car manufacturer would be pouring into F1 if it can turn itself into a “free” testing ground for their technology not to mention the marketing benefit behind this.
    If you as a consumer can buy a car with very similar technology thats seen on an F1 car and I mean really correlated technology, like the way the energy is harvest and applied, I am sure you will be more likely to buy it than an hyundai, perhaps, 20% premium over other vehicle , and thats what would fund the race and the development. I am surprised that William doesn’t have any commercial car in relation to its name, Lotus (now renault again), how about Force india? Who wouldn’t want to buy a car that gives you the sensation of an F1 car? Not to mention the tyres are disasters…. I agree it looks great now, but hey, how can we apply that fat tyres into any car you see on street…. its not practical, and if its not practical you will not get any financial benefit from it, and there you go the cost !
    All the lower tier team would shut up if their participation on F1 would help them to sell cars.

    So the PROBLEM IS, teams aren’t able to make money from what they have spend! Its just business, its not rocket science.

    1. Its the end of an old thread, os I don´t expect anybody to read this, but your observations are worth a comment. As much as I can agree with you, the problem persists because F1 business model moved from “innovate to win” to “spend to entertain”, more or less like professional wrestling with an important diference: the unequal distribution of income is not based only on on popularity of the “athlete”, because the outcomes of the “competition” is pre-determined by complicated and expensive rules defined by the richest stakeholders.

      For a long time now, F1 is a show, not a testbed for the future of atutomotive industry. This is why it is so important to Bernie that the drivers get involved in out of track celebrity activities (the Hamilton showpeople over the boring Vettels and Rosbergs). As an entertainement business, it is fascinating how precise is the arguments of Sauber and Force India: the “market” is closed to them, because the rules close them out of the very oligarchy that makes the ascension rules. It is the definition of a cartel. As it is not a real competition not because there are unequal competitors, but before smaller teams just cannot have the means to pose a real threat to change the forerunners. In this way their employees have their jobs at risk because they have no way of even keeping their maket shares. It is a cartel, a monopoly.

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