Do you support F1 teams’ EU protest?

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Force India and Sauber have brought a complaint about Formula One to the European Union’s Competition Commission.

The two teams allege Formula One is being unlawfully run in a way which favours rival teams Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Williams and McLaren.

If the EU decides to take action, Formula One would face an investigation which could last several years. If it was found to have broken the law, possible punishments include a fine potentially totalling billions of pounds as well as changes to F1’s governance.

Are the teams right to get the EU involved?


The EU complaint has been lodged to “question 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”.

Reports indicate last year the five favoured teams received 71% of F1’s revenues while the other half – including Force India and Sauber – shared 29%. This is not merely unfair it is also unhealthy for Formula One as it threatens to drive those teams out of business, leaving the sport with fewer competitors.

The collapse of HRT and Caterham and the financial plight of other teams shows this danger is real, and the fact that people’s jobs are on the line is why it is correct to get the EU involved.


Bernie Ecclestone has pointed out that the teams knew the terms which were being offered when they signed up to them. The more generous compensation given to the five teams reflects their history of competing in the sport and the commitments they have given to remain in Formula until at least 2020.

Formula One has always been an expensive sport and teams have always come and gone. The high cost of competing and low reward for finishing further down the classification acts as to deter less committed entries and ensures the grid is of a high quality.

It also bears pointing out that of the five teams arguably harmed by F1’s structure, only two have put their names to the complaint.

I say

Ecclestone invariably dismisses calls for a fair distribution of revenue in Formula One as “communism” – as if Formula One was a country and not a sport.

Sport requires fair competition. This is not possible when certain teams are given a stronger say in how the rules are written while others are shut out of the process. Nor is it possible when Ecclestone’s same preferred teams are given huge bonuses just for showing up.

While only Force India and Sauber have so far put their names to the complaint, it seems likely they would also have the support of Lotus if their financial problems were not so pressing that their team members were only able to eat at Suzuka because of a hand-out from Ecclestone.

Another of Ecclestone’s favourite phrases is about not wanting teams who come to him with “begging bowls”. But the way he has set the sport up invites those who aren’t his favourites to pump tens of millions more into their teams merely the achieve spending parity with the likes of Ferrari.

If the EU can change that – or act as a lever to bring Ecclestone to the negotiating table, then the complaint can be a good thing. However this is likely to be as far away from a quick and easy fix as it is possible to get: once the cogs of the EU’s vast bureaucracy begin moving it is hard to predict when it might stop and what the consequences might be.

You say

Do you want to see the complaint against F1 succeed? Is a complaint to the EU the best way for Force India and Sauber to instigate change? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you support Force India and Sauber's complaint to the EU about F1?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Oppose strongly (4%)
  • Oppose slightly (3%)
  • Neither support nor oppose (4%)
  • Support slightly (15%)
  • Support strongly (74%)

Total Voters: 466

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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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107 comments on “Do you support F1 teams’ EU protest?”

  1. If it’ss for the good of the whole sport in a mid-term/long-term basis, yes I support.

  2. I am for the protest. My concern however is in the potential consequences. If the consequences are massive fines for the sport and therefore Bernie being even more financially demanding of broadcasters and circuit owners, then I am against it. If the only consequence however is a simple redistribution and equalization of the wealth amongst teams, all the better.

    1. You can bet your gold plated steering wheel that BCE, the master manipulator, will do everything in
      his massive power to exploit, distort, manipulate, any situation where CVC’s huge income from
      F1 is threatened in the slightest possible way. It has been stated elswhere that if push came to shove
      and CVC’s income from F1 was seriously threatened he would be perfectly happy to see F1 destroyed
      as a racing operation. That, as far as he’s concerned F1 either continues to operate in the grossly
      imbalanced way he likes it, or it goes to the wall.

      These are very sobering thoughts for any serious F1 enthusiast. Is it really possible to bring about
      the huge corrections needed in this fantastic sport and at the same time wrest control from an
      organisation which has not the slightest interest in F1 as a great, historic sport, and only sees F1
      as a very lucrative cash cow ?

      For what it’s worth, I’m on the side of the angels, but, unfortunately, the devil has all the weapons.

  3. Definitely. The governance of the sport and the unequal distribution of money are in my eyes the biggest issues facing F1.

  4. Probably the easiest vote I ever had to make

    1. Me too

  5. I support their complaints since the distribution is really unfair, but they knew what they were facing when they signed the contracts so it doesn’t really make sense to protest to the EU commission in my opinion.

    1. Do they know the full picture though? As far as I can tell the bilateral deals between FOM and the individual teams were secret and we only have hearsays and estimates of the amounts involved

    2. Whether or not they knew of how broken the system was when they signed up has nothing to do with how broken the system actually is.

      If it’s unlawful, it’s unlawful, and everyone has every right to complain.

      That it’s unfair and harmful to F1 is quite obvious, I’d say. But that’s not necessarily what’s being argued here. Just think of how a team like Lotus and McLaren cannot possibly ever appear out of nowhere today, like they did in the sixties. It’s all broken.

    3. Imagine you’re Peter Sauber, Bernie comes to you and says “This is your new contract, either sign it, or lose your place in F1.”
      Do you sign it knowing you’re being screwed over, or do you stick to your principles and watch the company you’ve spent decades building go bust, and all of your employees made redundant ?

      1. exactly @beneboy, it’s not as if it was ever a real choice for the smaller teams

      2. And how many times did they sign that contract? After signing it once and realizing what the situation was, they could have got the other small teams together and vowed that the next time they’re asked to sign a contract they would band together and demand a better deal. F1 can’t survive without them so together they would have a great deal of power.
        The onus was on them to make a better deal for themselves, instead they complain that the bigger teams were able to use their name etc to get a good deal. This same mentality of whining and complaining rather than finding a way to succeed is probably why they are still small fry getting the scraps.

        1. @velocityboy
          At the time Bernie was pushing for three or four car teams to be introduced, he was effectively telling the smaller teams that he could survive without them because it’s easy to get the big teams to run enough cars to fill the grid.

        2. The last time they all signed it had been after the Concord Agreement had been over for a year or two. There were rumors as to what Bernie was offering but each team signed separately so they didn’t know what Bernie gave them. The smaller teams didn’t know that they were signing their souls.

    4. I don’t support their complaints for the very reason you stated. They knew the terms of the contract when they signed it and have no one to blame but themselves.

      1. The problem resides in the international Competition Laws. Abuse of Domination Position means that such advantages may be used to deter others possibilities. To survive in the sport both claiming teams had to accept the abuse as the only way to prove it. Now they can file a potential winning case. Fines for F1 could be huge so an extra-court arrangement would be reached and economic field leveling could be expected.

    5. @luca, The teams that knew what they were facing when they signed also knew what they would be facing if they didn’t sign, that would be the closure of their business, the loss of all they had invested in it and the loss of jobs for hundreds of blameless employees. Perhaps another good reason to be pleased if RBR pick up their ball and go home, after all it was RBR that conspired with Bernie to break Foca/Fota.

    6. It’s a catch-22. My understanding is If they don’t sign the contracts they don’t have standing to protest to EU.

      Why should they be faulted from fighting against a rigged system? This isn’t a crooked card game. F1 is the top of the racing industry in europe, and arguably around the world. Too much is at stake to walk away.

    7. Yeah they new but also they were promised that cost cap will be applied and they thought team can be run within that margin. But the costs are grown out of proportion and that are struggling to field a car. It’s unfair if u can’t stand with the promises u made then its not fair for unequal distribution of money as u mentioned in the contract.

  6. I agree that small teams need more money from the budget, but an EU complain seems useless to me.
    Football has the same money distribution, the most to the big teams.

    1. No, it does not.
      Premier League teams get a much fairer share of the league’s profits with each team guaranteed a minimum payment plus performance bonuses, TV appearence bonuses, and even relegation payments.
      The bigger teams earn more through sponsorship, and from appearing in competitions such as the FA Cup and Champions League, but the distribution of profits from the Premier League is nothing like F1, the Premier League even give money to lower leagues, which is the equivelant of F1 giving some of their profits to GP2, GP3 and other feeder series.

      50% of UK broadcast revenue split equally between the 20 clubs
      25% of UK broadcast revenue paid in Merit Payments (“Prize Money” per place in the table)
      25% of UK broadcast revenue paid in Facility Fees each time a club’s matches are broadcast in the UK.
      All international broadcast revenue, and central commercial revenue, is split equally among the 20 clubs.

      1. @beneboy Nice. That’s why the Premier League is so strong @lello4ever. I’ll bet that AFC Bournemouth are going to earn more this year than many champions league winners on the continent (e.g. Ajax, Italian teams), with a ground that holds just over 10,000, while Stoke City are signing players from Barcelona and Inter Milan (although Mark Hughes as manager helps with contacts)!

        I think the European leagues are starting to feel that the PL is too dominant. Even Spain has now moved to a collective bargaining agreement, the last big league to do so – maybe it’s about time F1 took a step in that direction as well with the historical payments. The teams are basically franchises at this point anyway.

      2. @beneboy
        Great post, thank you!
        This looks like a fair distribution to me, as it rewards the best competitors, but still allows the less successful teams to survive. I didn’t think football could be so equitable.

        1. @lello4ever Ah, that’s sad to see. No wonder Juventus could come back so strongly so quickly from the match-fixing scandal and relegation to Serie B. Also that Inter and Milan are comfortable languishing in the mid-table, as they are guaranteed more income than the clubs around them.

          It’s also a shame as when I was growing up (late 90s), Serie A was felt to be the strongest league, with the PL, La Liga and Bundesliga behind it. If the money could be spread more evenly, it might also allow all of the smaller teams to improve their facilities, I know that Juventus is the only one that has built a new purpose built stadium recently.

      3. F1 has someone similar distribution.
        23.75 % are distributed equally between the top 10 teams
        23.75 % is distributed according to the WCC standings
        7.5% is distrusted as bonus payments for top 3 race winners of last 3 years
        now the bad things start
        5.0% is paid to Ferrari
        3.3% is paid as Historical payments to Mclaren , Mercedes , Williams
        0.5% is for the teams outside Top 10(if any)
        36% goes to CVC

        1. I can’t really comment on this discussion without having the facts.
          For years I’ve been trying to find out what the prize money in F1 is.
          I’m not sure how much is true on what Kishan is saying above – how factual and true are his figures?
          F1 is very secretive when it comes to dishing out the money.
          Who is ‘CVC’ and why do they get 36%
          Why does Ferrari get 5% – I’ve always thought that somehow ‘F1’ stands for ‘Ferrari 1’ – because whenever I see penalties and decisions being made in the past 99% of them are always in favour of Ferrari.

          So – if now finally every detail is put on the tables on how money goes around in F1 – then I’m all in favour of this EU protest. The more I know, the better informed opinion I can make on this subject.
          My gut feeling is that Bernie has had everyone by the short and curlies for years and I don’t think he gives a dam what we think or what we do.
          He also knows that by the time anyone has woken up of what he’s done over the years – he will already be gone. Something else that springs to mind is Jimmy Saville? Similar situation really.

        2. This really should be COTD.

          People read “unfair” and the rage makes their knees jerk. If they would actually know the facts then it would be obvious to them that it’s nowhere near as “unfair” as some people try to make it look.

          Even though I guess the figures are slightly old since the Red Bull bonus is missing, but it’s reasonably similar to what Autosport reported a few months ago.

          Perhaps also add in an explanation of how the strategy workgroup works so we don’t get these silly comments on how the top teams have a “chokehold” on the regulations.

    2. There is a lot of truth to that, but then football doesn’t have it anywhere near as bad as F1 does. OK, I don’t follow football, but it’s in the UK media so much it’s almost impossible to avoid, and I’m not hearing weekly stories about a third of the Premiership clubs on the verge of folding financially. Yet at every GP, there’s yet another story about how Lotus can’t pay their bills, about how McLaren can’t find a sponsor, about how Manor Marussia is barely holding on, and about how Force India and Sauber may be in the black, but not by much.

      Yes, in football more money goes to the big teams. But the imbalance is nowhere near like it is in F1.

      1. Actually, ignore me; @beneboy‘s post is far more informative and accurate :)

      2. @Dave, it should be borne in mind that altering the distribution of funds was not enough to reduce the risk of financial issues amongst teams though.

        Whilst it is true that you don’t hear stories about the teams in the Premier League hitting financial problems these days, that is because the Premier League introduced cost control measures in 2013 that restricted how much the teams could spend per year and forced them to run a financial surplus or face sanctions – in effect, cost capping the series in all but name.

        Before those restrictions kicked in, although the revenue distribution was the same and the teams had more than €2.5 billion a year flowing into the sport, the Premier League teams were still running at a loss – back in 2012, the last year of unrestricted spending in the Premier League, the championship winning team, Manchester City, made a loss of nearly £100 million. As for more painful financial situations, just ask the fans of Portsmouth FC, which went into administration only a few years ago whilst being in the Premier League.

        The example from the Premier League would therefore suggest that, even if you gave the teams a far larger chunk of the net income of the sport and reduced the difference in payments between teams, the rewards for being successful are sufficiently high that teams would still be prepared to overspend now in the hope of securing more prestige and money in the future.

        Growing the finances of the teams may help, but it would seem that it would take greater financial restrictions on the other side of the coin to make the sport financially viable in the longer term – something that still seems to have only minority support with the teams and with the fans.

        1. Agree – that’s why the recent cost-cutting measures were sorely needed for F1. I think a collective 220m is wiped off of potential yearly spending if it all passes!

      3. Football is incredibly imbalanced. Look at the money in the Premier League compared to Championship. So many teams gamble on making it and barely any teams in the Premier League break even. Below their it is even worse, they are all almost losing money in the hope of making it into the big time.
        Football is no model for success.
        There should be a very small prize for F1 teams. All should receive similar amounts of money with perhaps a few bonuses (what for is up for discussion) but the greater discrepancy in winnings the more likely teams are to gamble for glory and then crash and burn.

    3. I believe that football has its funding correct and f1 would be stronger if it had something similar

      1. I just don’t think it is that easy to compare football to F1, which hinges on spending 10’s and 100’s of millions of dollars on gear and huge commitments of time and infrastructure, such as the top 5 teams committing to F1 through 2020.

  7. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) (@)
    4th October 2015, 12:24

    I am not informed enough to have an opinion on this. I can’t tell whether it’s actually a good thing or a bad thing. Guess we’ll see what comes out of it, eventually. Perhaps more transparency in the sport, that would be good.

  8. I feel all teams except for Manor have been in the sport (under whatever management) long enough to be granted those exceptions making it no longer exceptions because all teams have them (except of Manor).

  9. I chose ‘support slightly’. Although I do strongly support it, I don’t think it will end in a comfortable resolution for the complainants so I downgraded my support rating.

    I think the real issue is not the money (although there definitely needs to be a change), but the fact that the big teams have a strong say in rule and regulation changes, and their decisions are based on improving their own competitiveness rather than the state of the sport, further pushing the poorer teams out of the loop.

    1. I went for the same option, but for a different reason; I think going via the EU will take too long to resolve, and even though it is capable of doing real good, it’s far from guaranteed the EU will make the right choice.

  10. They need to support the NFL model with completely equal distribution. Better teams will get more money from prizes and advertising, so there’s always a benefit to doing well, and continuing to do well.

    1. Good post.
      If you want to get more money, do it through building a good brand and spending wisely rather than throwing money at it and most likely failing like they currently do.

      1. But… that’s exactly what the top teams have done. Williams, Ferrari, and McLaren didn’t start with legacy payments. They did the hard yards and built the brand from scratch. All three are race teams that turned into bigger businesses. If they could do it, why can’t Sauber? Instead of languishing in the mid-field after 20 years of mediocrity.

        1. @selbbin

          Williams, Ferrari, and McLaren didn’t start with legacy payments.

          Fortunately for them their rivals at the time didn’t have them either, which is surely the point?

          1. Fair enough.

  11. Whatever one thinks about so called “historic” payments to various teams, the whole system and management of F1 is not transparent and carried out in a democratic manner. Ecclestone dictates who gets what and changes things as he alone thinks fit and in any sports this cannot be correct.
    Further for a select few teams to be part of the rule making process to the detriment and what has been shown as the demise of the others can only be illegal!
    As for the FIA, in my humble opinion, the EU should consider legal action for his sale of the FIA rights for what is in a round about way for personal gain.

  12. Apologies, my last para should have included, “little Napolean” –Todt.

  13. The fact they feel they have to go through the EU shows how broken F1 is; this is something that should really be solvable within the sport. But that would require the FIA to actually do their jobs and govern their sport.

  14. Anything to disrupt the current situation is fully supported by me. Seeing how the NFL in the states works with even distribution and the weakest teams getting advantages like picking players first, I would like to see even money for the teams and maybe allow the lowest teams to have more or as much testing as they can afford.

  15. The EU is more corrupt than F1, so lets just keep them out of it.

    1. @saints
      Sorry, but that’s plain nonsense. The EU may be on the same scale as Bernie’s Flying Circus, but not at the same end of the scale.

      1. You underestimate the power of the dark side….

      2. It’s not just corruption that’s worrying, but also the level of incompetence. The EU made FIA sell all commercial rights over to Ecclestone.

        So really the EU created this situation!

        1. @patrickl
          What’s the EU got to do with the fact that this sale turned out to benefit someone who would then go on make decisions harmful for the sport?
          That’s like blaming the EU for banning lead paints, and then someone somewhere dies from a strange kind of lung cancer that would’ve been prevented by life-long lead poisoning.
          It’s not the EU’s job to stare into crystal balls to make sure that everyone everywhere is happy 20 years in the future. They’ve applied their law, and that’s it. Now, 20 years later, the man who has been pulling the strings since that, has established an unfair and corrupt system, leading to a protest by teams.
          In short: I find your comment baffling.

          1. @nase, It meant the FIA was forced to hand over control of the money to some outside party.

            I guess the problem is that you think you’d need a crystal ball to imagine that situation working out poorly in many ways.

            It’s more like Germany saying they will provide housing and a monthly income for asylum seekers and then are surprised that a huge herd of fortune seekers heads their way.

            I guess some people really don’t think things through and then are “baffled” by others that do.

  16. petebaldwin (@)
    4th October 2015, 13:37

    Honestly, I dont know who is right here. I dont trust Bernie or the teams. Either way, the powers that be have constantly attracted criticism from fans over the way they appear to treat the teams differently so it’ll be good to see what comes of this.

  17. strongly support it, but who knows whether bernie will still be around when the eu finally make a decision. this will take a very long time.

    @beneboy s comment shows how the distribution can be fair. split 50% for all teams and the rest depending on where they finish in the championship. stop the nonsense with bonuses for the big four teams.

  18. Strongly support. I believeit would bring more money to the sport. The mid-lower level teams would have a chance to attract better or additional sponsors if they performed at a higher level with a fair share of TV revenes. Seeing blank areas on the cars at the back of the grid might be come less of an issue.

  19. If the rule of law has been broken then it needs to be enforced.

  20. I don’t think the sport is being run well, but I’m against interference by the EU for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly F1 is a trivial bit of entertainment, it’s so far down the list of priorities for regulatory agencies paid for by citizens taxes they should just tell the teams to go away and sort their own problems out.

    And secondly no one is forcing these teams to be in F1. If it’s such an unfairly run show then walk away. Ecclestone is playing a giant bluff that the teams need F1 more than F1 needs the teams. The fact is you can’t make a profit and win, it’s a bizarre business model where you need an injection of funding from outside the sport to make it to the top, but the only way to justify that investment is to be at the top, which obviously can’t be achieved by more than one team.

    The current model needs to fail and a new one be setup from scratch. Too many revisions, amendments and back handed deals have left the organisation a disgusting, mutated, inbred beast.

    Teams don’t make a profit from racing. Tracks don’t make a profit from hosting. Drivers have to pay for a race seat. It sounds like a bad joke when you sum it up.

    1. Strongly disagree on both of your points:

      1) There are regulatory agencies already being paid for by the tax money, and if they need to take on new staff to deal with this complaint it will literally be a drop in the ocean of their finances, but that aside, the core of your point, that sport and the sports industry is not a priority for the law makers to regulate – what other multi trillion dollar industry employing hundreds of thousands of employees and providing a living for hundreds of thousands more in associated industries (press, merchandice et al) and being such a core part of humanities cultural identity would get away without regulation – religion I guess, but I fully expect the gears to start grinding on that onver the coming generations.

      2) So your answer is, don’t like it, fire all your employes (because they won’t be able to pay them in the protest years), wrap up your business in all but name and end all your business relationships, because the sport is disadvantaging you? I mean really? In the civilised world, we don’t allow a company, a person, a corporation to be dictated to so unfairly, we put laws in place to prevent it happening. What you are saying is if a landlord suddenly putting up the rent while insisting that you “must take in immigrants” as part of your contract, your only recourse is to move out. No. We regulate those who have the power over those who don’t to make sure they cannot turn lives upside down, in every level of business and every industry. “Don’t like the contract so leave” is a stance that will turn the lives of hundreds of employees upside down, if that contract is unfair, then CVP should be punished for that.

  21. F1 is a farm where the farmer does not feed his cow, yet he milks her everyday, whips her for more milk, blames her for bad milk, tells her to walk around and advertise the great farm she belongs to. He sees the cow struggling and keeps milking it until she dries up and dies.

    You know who the farmer is.

  22. I voted slightly agree, mainly based on the top teams potentially having too much say for fair competition, but not so much because of the money distribution thing.

    There’s no way you can tell me these teams didn’t know and haven’t known for years, how it works in F1. It was worse in the MS/Ferrari era when it was Ferrari alone ie. one team that had the weight of 3 votes on the board and the MS record breaking streak was the result, processions and the undercut with nary a pass required by MS being the norm.

    I think the difference now is the global economy we are in that has resulted in the smaller teams having a more difficult time than ever getting outside money to help them grow. Small teams have always had to sell themselves to F1 as to why they want to be in F1 and why they believe they will grow and get more competitive and contribute to the show, knowing how much money they would get in return, and only then would they be allowed entry. Perhaps the money could be upped somewhat given the economic circumstances globally, but it doesn’t sound like BE feels he should have to scrap contracts that were signed in good faith. Let’s not forget the marketing impact teams’ sponsors glean from being in F1. How much hand-holding is enough? Where do they draw the line?

    As I say perhaps it is time to adjust things a little…or perhaps we could hope that the top 5 decide it would be better for the sport overall to cut the small teams a little slack. I just don’t think it should be a lot of slack. Everyone enters F1 eyes wide open, even if their practices are debatable or a bit out of touch with the economic times.

    1. How do the top teams have too much of a say? A few teams each have a single vote out of an 18 vote total. What on earth do you think they any one of them could accomplish? Even if they all get together they still only have 5 votes.

      1. Fair comment but it would seem that is a gripe of the likes of FI and Sauber nonetheless, so obviously the big 5 have a say beyond their one vote. Sure they all supposedly have one vote, but that happens after the big teams have been consulted about the rules and regs and the direction F1 goes at any given time. After all, they are the ones making the engines for example, and they are the ones that are the real draw for audience. What tire testing there is, is conducted with bigger team(s) as they have the staff and infrastructure to provide the necessary feedback to Pirelli.

        1. @robbie, I never got the idea that FI and Sauber are interested in anything else but money. The regulation gripe looks more like a stick to try and hit the moneytree to see if some money falls out.

          What you are saying actually is exactly the reason why this will never change. The big teams have more lobbying power than that their vote in the Strategy Workgroup actually counts. Taking away token voting power for the teams (including one alternating small team BTW) will do nothing and they know it.

  23. For sure, I support it strongly for many reasons. Fairness is just one aspect; I also believe that the current system makes no sense and threatens the existence of F1. Why should McLaren be rewarded for their “history” if their record has been disastrous over the last three years? Given how much they invest, their performance has been an embarrassment for the team and F1 as a sport. As for the ‘commitments’, Red Bull are now clearly showing that they mean nothing. Yes, F1 teams come and go and there is nothing bad about it but the current profit distribution does not even reward performance, it rewards a few “chosen ones” and hinders new teams from entering F1.

    So good luck to Force India and Sauber, I hope that their complaint will ultimately make F1 stronger.

  24. I do understand why Ferrari earns more. They are very important to f1. I don’t understand though why the fia let’s teams put a chokehold on the sports revenues and technical and sporting matters. I think the best should earn more but i also believe that the best shouldn’t necessarily spend their way to the top, not transparent.

    1. A chokehold no less? Come on people, get the facts before the rage comes out.

  25. The more generous compensation given to the five teams reflects their history of competing in the sport and the commitments they have given to remain in Formula until at least 2020.

    I think historic teams should be given some kind of compensation. They shaped F1 to what it is right now and it’d be “unfair” for Williams, McLaren and Ferrari to be given the exact same amount of money than Haas for instance. Those 3 teams fought and won championships since the beginning of time, and they, through their cars, drivers, sponsors, whatever, basically made F1 what it is today. You could say their stories made F1 an exciting proposition for more teams, and more sponsors.

    But I also don’t see how Red Bull gets this bonus when they are a company that isn’t inherent to motorsport, and is threatening to leave the sport at will. Nothing, besides marketing, connects Red Bull to F1. Even if they won championships (I don’t know exactly when this deal was signed), I find it unfair that a team can come and go and receive extra money while others that want to stay and fight hard to keep going have to do with less prize money, even less resources and chances of sucess much lower than those that get the bonus.

    Sauber and Force India (in all it’s forms) have been in this sport far longer than Red Bull. So has Enstone team.

    So I don’t know. I feel the revenue share is not distributed the way it should: F1 should protect it’s history but it should also help those that push harder to make the grids big. And they are not really doing the latter very well.

    1. Red Bull got their deal when they stabbed FOTA in the back. So indeed that’s not for historic purposes, but simply a bribe from Ecclestone to put an end to FOTA.

      1. So if that’s the case, one shouldn’t be surprised if F1 isn’t simply one vote per team as per your comment above, right?

        1. “If” that’s the case? This has been widely documented.

          Not sure what you mean by the rest, but if it is to say that teams have lobbying powers then yes.

  26. When the teams signed their contracts all the info they actually had was their contract. They did not have sight of the other teams contracts. Plus when they signed I don’t think they were aware how much the new power units would cost.
    I believe Bernie actually wants the EU to force changes. He can’t change the contracts without financial penalty to himself. He also doesn’t like the committee deciding the rules as they won’t agree.
    So in one go the EU ‘forces’ Bernie to change things to the way he wants them anyway!!!

    Should be something like 50% of prize money divided between all teams, 35% based on finishing position and 15% based on historic value to F1.

  27. The other big difference between F1 and Premier League is that with F1 the sport’s commercial rights holders suck 50% of the gross income straight out of the sport before anything is distributed to the teams. With Premier League I believe virtually all of it ends back in the sport. Follow this link for a highly revealing chart:

    1. That’s because the EU made FIA sell the commercial rights. Now some outside party owns those and can take whatever they want off the top to pay them for their risks and efforts. EU has nothing to say about that. Well they did because they caused it, but I doubt they can undo their damage.

      The only bit that is up for debate are the historical payments and the Ferrari bonus. That’s 8,5% of the total.

      You know what is really revealing about that chart? Did you see that every top 10 team each get $42.7 million equally and another $42.7 million per team is divided by the championship points scored? That sounds pretty “fair” right?

  28. I think the ecclestone’s point about there being new teams with begging bowls (this is an old quote from the 90s I think) holds some truth. Marussia has proven how easy it is to stay inside the 107% rule with pay drivers and years old car. Would it make more this team any faster if marussia got bigger piece of the money? We know it doesn’t. Back when caterham was in f1 they finished 10th and marussia was 11th. Caterham got the prize money for 10th, marussia as 11th got nothing. Now marussia is getting that 10th place prize money. Has it made them any faster? No, in fact it has made them slower. Instead of competing they are now just driving around and collecting that prize money.

    What could happen is that all the caterhams and HRTs would come back just to happily drive at the back of the field and collect their participation ribbon moneys. What marussia has done in the past 2 years makes a very solid case that could become a reality.

    That not only means the back end of the grid is filled with uncompetitive teams. But it also means pay drivers will get all those seats.

    That’s not me saying that the prize money distribution is not wrong. It is. It has two huge flaws. First the unequal prize money distribution. But the another just as big issue is that only top10 teams get paid.

    How to fix it? Easy, actually. First of all all f1 teams should get prize money. If there were 14 teams then 14 teams get paid. Even if this would lead to more teams signing up just to collect the prize money by driving around it would also allow those teams who want to compete to climb up the ladder.

    2nd. And this is controversial. Give more points to finishers further back in the grid. This would allow teams to collect points ( =earn money) by competing. Something like top16 should get points.

    3rd. I don’t think the historical bonus for ferrari is wrong. Ferrari is important for f1. But there should be a system for this. Not something teams negotiate individually but a structure and set of rules which allow teams to get this money automatically once they fulfill the criteria. Be that criteria amount of championships, years of competition or number of races. That way the teams are valued by their real value and not just based on what kind of games ecclestone is playing at any given time.

    As to the actual prize money distribution we need to look at how other big series do it. Things can get worse just as they can get better.

    1. Very good points. I am a Sauber fan but I agree there should be some kind of historical payment but it should be success based, like an additional 2 or 5%.

      I agree that these teams (I don’t include RB in this) should get some reward as they bring bigger audiences which is valuable to all teams. But they bring smaller audiences when they are at the back, like McLaren atm, so getting smaller bonuses is deserved.

  29. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
    4th October 2015, 16:58

    I don’t like it when the EU messes with everything, and forbid/change things that do not need to be changed.
    But this is one of the clearest examples where they should step in, especially because nobody else will do it.

    And that only 2 teams put their name to it is probably a reason to be in favour (rather than against). Bernie runs F1 like a dictator and punishes anybody who disagrees with him (e.g. Mercedes black out). Kudos for Sauber and Force India! (Renault probably stopped Lotus joining, RBR stopped TR, and Bernie has done a special deal with Manor this year).

    1. Can we stop with this whole ‘Mercedes black out’ nonsense? There’s no evidence to support it; it’s just a conspiracy rumour that damages the sport.

  30. Support Strongly. I want to watch a meritocracy, not Bernie deciding which team he wants to win.

    The whole system started with helping Ferrari to be up there, then to break FOTA by adding Red Bull. After that it got developed to placate the power players and leave the teams divided.

    The whole structure is corrupt, and the idea that an F1 team ‘didn’t have to sign up’ is ridiculous. An F1 team IS an F1 team, just like Kelloggs make Corn Flakes.

    What to put in its place is another, separate question, really. It has to remain possible for a team to fail, for one thing. Ferrari shouldn’t be allowed tobacco sponsorship, for another.

  31. O’boy was this an easy vote; Support strongly!

    Unfair distribution of money is the #1 problem in F1.

  32. Honestly, this is a complex legal case so I don’t feel educated enough in law to fully understand the case. However this is how I see it in my mind:

    Computer software is a fair market. I choose to have a word processor installed on my computer. Currently my word processor is Microsoft Word and I had to agree to their terms of usage when I installed the software. If I no longer agree with the terms of use, I have the power to uninstall Microsoft’s software and find a competitor’s word processor to use. I have the power to use whatever software I choose.

    I counter this with Formula One. Teams like Sauber and Force India had to sign the commercial deals whether they liked the deals or not because they didn’t have any power within the negotiations. Ultimately Sauber and Force India are exclusively Formula 1 teams and if they don’t compete in Formula 1 then they have no backup business and will have to cease operations. They have to rely on Bernie giving them a fair deal, because they do not have the power to negotiate themselves a fair deal. To me, the deals that they were offered by Bernie were not fair, due to the disparity of the treatment of teams like Ferrari from the likes of Sauber and Force India.

  33. Sumit (@sumit-chawla)
    4th October 2015, 17:49

    Fantastic poll Keith. One of the reasons this blog is so good. Cheers!

  34. Lol, sauber didn’t care about laws and rules, when they signed three drivers last year and now they complain about contracts. All the teams (safe manor and possibly williams) are selfish hypocrits. While i do agree with this, the attitude around the f1 teams of not wanting other teams to catch up and the stupid voting system is the real problem.

  35. Slightly disagree. Firstly, why “European”? A lot (maybe well over 50% ???) of FOM money comes from outside the European Union, particularly race track fees and TV revenue; it’s not up to Europe to decide what to do with Australian, Chinese, Canadian, American, etc. money. And I’m not even certain that the EU can pull strings in Jersey (HQ of FOM) which is only partly a member, excluding most financial regulation. Many teams may be [partly] European based, but F1 is now a world sport.
    Secondly, we need less regulation, not more — it’s bad enough inside the sport (tech and sporting regs, etc.), but add economists and ($deity help us) politicians to the mix and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.
    Lastly, “financial equality” is a dream, just a warm and fuzzy feeling. As Keith says, teams come and go; the best do well and remain in the sport, the weaker ones go. Just look at how much Mercedes “lost” to win the WCC and WDC…

    1. FOM & FIA are both based and registered in Europe, therefore the sport must comply with EU legislation.

  36. For. The bottom line is Formula 1 is run by people interested solely in making money and exploiting F1 for that purpose. As with all parasite capitalists, they will run whatever they are operating and using into the ground if it suits their own short-medium term financial goals. Once the money is in the bank, they don’t care. Who allows this? FIA did, of course, and, like other sports, the dominant teams will go along so long as suits them in sports and financial terms. Hence the need for outside intervention.

    Against. Bernie Ecclestone points out…

    That’s also immediately an argument ‘For’! Anything Ecclestone claims about fair management of F1, you can bet the opposite is true.

  37. They need to find a way to break the 100 year deal that Mosely struck with Bernie, which got sold to CVC. 100 year deal to get around EU legislation…and now CVC has borrowed extreme amount of money with that deal as a security. Nothing will happen since the loans are still not paid for. Only way forward is for EU to find it illeagal or F1 must go broke to nullify it.

  38. Andre Furtado
    4th October 2015, 19:48

    I’m against. If you don’t like it leave it. Then again I’m American. This whole Attitude feels very European to me. No offense intended. Crying about life being fair isn’t how I was raised. I was raised knowing if I didn’t like something either comply with it or move on to something else. Crying and begging is beneath you.

    1. Crying about life being fair isn’t how I was raised.

      So if someone broke into your house and stole your belongings you wouldn’t “cry”, to use your word, to the police about it?

  39. I voted for “slightly support”, and that’s because I’m well aware that such proceedings can end up with unintended and unfortunate consequences. I do strongly support the more equitable distribution of funds within F1, but as some others have pointed out, if this results in a lawsuit and huge fines paid and so forth, it could end up costing the sport as a whole more than it helps it.

    The main problem I feel is not so much how the money is distributed between the teams (although that is also an issue) but how much money makes it to that point to begin with. If this results in more of the earnings going to the teams and less sticking with the management, that’ll certainly be a good thing.

    I can see the argument for historic payments for some teams (Ferrari, McLaren, and Williams anyhow), but I think there has to be a better way to go about acknowledging their long participation in and value for the sport than giving them that much more money simply to be there. Adding teams like Red Bull into that severely hampers any argument one could make that it should continue, since they really haven’t been around much longer than anyone else.

    Basically, the best I can see coming of this is a more fair distribution of funds both in terms of how much is going to the teams at all and in terms of how evenly it’s divided between the teams, and I’m all for that. The worst I can see happening is an expensive legal case which doesn’t really change anything and actually drives up costs across the board, possibly even causing some of the smaller teams to leave, and that would obviously not be a good thing. To sum up my position on this, I’m definitely for it in theory, but perhaps too cynical about legal proceedings in general (especially when going up against powerful corporate entities) to believe that anything good will actually be able to come of it.

  40. I am absolutely with the teams that the money distribution is unfair, and that FOM should find a more equitable distribution in their own interest (i.e. keeping the sports interesting. However:

    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.

  41. Can’t support They knew what they signed up to. Mallya is a hypocrite after his treatment of kingfisher airline employees and all his dodgy financial dealings

  42. To be blunt I don’t see how it’s unlawful for f1 to treat it’s teams this way, they could give everything to the top team as a prize if that’s what they said at the start. A sport can be run in any way it wants it’s not up to the EU to make it right.

    If I set up a sport tomorrow I wouldn’t want an outside authority deciding what was fair, it would be up to me as the organiser to sort it out and that’s how I see F1.

    To me the current rules aren’t the best but they’re also not illegal and it’s up to the people in charge to sort it out not anyone else.

    1. The discussion is somewhat upside down. The problem is not only how the money is distributed, but the very high costs just to be in F1. The decisions on cost (like imposing hybrid engines as expensive as a small satellite including launch) are made just by the teams that get the biggest share.

      This is not an usual market where the consumer decides what he/she wants to buy. The consumer money is mediated by a private company that defines amounts that are very far from enough for smaller teams to cope with the high cost defined by the governance body. So it is really a pincer movement: very high costs and very low income, but the worse of them are the obscene amounts of money anybody would have to get in order to be there because artificial rules. In the end of the day, if small teams had votes, or better, if the decisions about rules were made by an independent comission, the interrests of the public, not the ones from an oligarchy, would be taken care of. It is clearly a cartel and it is up to EU to decide what to do about it.

  43. Yes, I strongly support them. The built-in financial advantage for certain teams is completely unsporting, and should be scrapped immediately.

  44. This whole “unfair” nonsense is just that, nonsense. I know people on this site (or the site itself actually) keep harping on about this, but everywhere in sports you will see that the best performing and most popular sports teams/people get the most money.

    There are 1500 tennis players on the ATP list and only the top two hundred tennis players are making any money really. Among those only a dozen or so get paid just to show up at a tournament. Unfair or a pay off for all the hard work this people put in and the special talent that they bring?

    Besides, it’s an illusion that giving a hand-out to the privateer teams is actually going to help. They seem to think 30 tot 40 million is a pretty good budget and are content to just muddle along at the back of the grid. Give them 10 or 20 million extra and they will just stop looking for sponsors. It won’t bring them any nearer to the top or middle teams either.

    FI and Sauber aren’t even teams like that so why keep bringing up dropouts like HRT and Caterham like that’s what this is about? It’s about teams like FI and Sauber who are doing reasonably fine (although Kaltenborn seems intent on running Sauber into the ground). They are in a midfield position and they will not go up or down anyway. They would need 200 million more to compete for the championship. All it is is that they see money and they “wantses it”. Why not gamble on the EU to help you get some of it?

    People also seem to have forgotten that it was the previous EU investigation which got the F1 in this mess to begin with. It forced the FIA into selling all commercial rights over to Ecclestone.

    So cheer all you want for the EU intervening. You can count on it that if they do anything it will be to mess things up even more.

    1. Among those only a dozen or so get paid just to show up at a tournament.

      And they get paid by their sponsors, not by the sport’s commercial arm. Besides, how much does it actually cost to compete in tennis? Because I’m willing to bet it’s a long long long way short of the tens of millions needed just to run at the back of the F1 grid.

      1. Tennis players get these bonuses from the venue where they play. Still “unfair”.

        Not sure how it matters how much it costs to compete at tennis. It costs a lot I’m sure. Not millions perhaps, but only a life time of dedication and hard work. Either way I wouldn’t have the kind of money needed for all that so I think it’s unfair. I want some of that money too. Come EU, why not? I have a racket, gimme some.

        1. All through this comment section, you make some very good points. But this… I fear you’re dismantling your own point.

    2. There is a difference between, sponsorship, revenue from tickets/broadcasting, and prizes.

      There are four main ways for sports teams in general to make money:
      1-Grand Prix / Matchday Revenue (gate receipts).
      2-Broadcasting Revenue (domestic and international).
      3-Commercial Revenue (sponsorship and merchandise).
      4-Prizes (when applicable).

      And it is obvious that 1 and 2 are to be shared by all participants equally, otherwise, it’s not only unfair, but unethical.

      When two football teams walk out of the stadium, they share the revenue equally, regardless of which team is on the top of the league or which tam has the most supporters.

      This whole FIA/Ecclestone business is messed up, yes the EU contributed into driving F1 into the “bad” state where it is today, but that does not mean every EU ruling will go that way.
      For smaller teams, any amount of money could be helpful.

  45. As Keith says, fair competition is impossible with the current format for the distribution of revenues. Is F1 a sport or an entertainment vehicle? Of course, it is both. But if it is essentially a sport then fair competition is essential. Otherwise brand it as something else.

    What kind of a sport needs to pay the regulars more to ensure they don’t take their toys elsewhere? A poorly managed sport, in my opinion.

    In some ways I hope that Red Bull and Toro Rosso drop out of the sport this year and the Lotus/Renault deal doesn’t happen and the McLaren/Honda deal goes sour. Sure, this is a radical opinion. But perhaps the grid really needs to hit rock bottom before fundamental changes are forced upon the people who are slowly running our sport into the ground. Let the collapse occur quickly rather than slowly to bring about the repercussions needed to drive F1 towards a future with more grace and sustainability.

    1. Mercedes gets a $38 million bonus and Williams $10 million. Do you seriously think either of those amounts is suddenly going to turn FI or Sauber into a championship contender?

      If anything I’d say the prize money is divided ridiculously evenly over the teams. Autosport did a review of the “inequalities” of the distribution of the prize money and they claim that Mercedes got $92 million for being the runaway champs while FI got $60 million for coming in sixth. If anything, that’s ridiculously unfair. What other sport gives the 5th place losers so much prize money?

      Hopefully the EU will get rid of the popualarity bonusses and fix the distribution of the prize money so that Mercedes get their fair share for winning and FI and Sauber get what they deserve for whining.

  46. 100 percent support for them. If it doesn’t work… fair enough ,but it has to be tried. Bernie only respects POWER.
    Only a power move will work.

  47. I do believe that it is about time that the whole way this sport managed is revised and rectified.
    This is only one of the few issues of this sport.
    If the sport is not making any money then the leadership is to be blamed, directly and fully. Mr Ecclestone, as a believer of capitalism as he claims, should know that when a company does not perform, for several years in a row, the higher management is to blame and the CEO leaves…

  48. Even now women are, on average, paid less than men in the workplace. The fact that they know this when they accept their contract of employment does not make it fair. Neither does it make it ‘crying’ if they complain about it or ask for legal protection. As long as the smaller teams are doing the work and are striving within the sport they should be fairly compensated. There are a lot of clever people within F1, it must be possible to come up with a fair solution that rewards teams fairly for their effort and also promotes more equal competition.

  49. I want to be clear in saying that I despise Monisha Kaltenborn. I think she’s utterly incompetent and highly irritating, to boot (I would have chosen different words, but don’t want my post censored). That being said, I agree with the idea that something must be done about the sport. While the stated reasons behind her complaints seem at least slightly disingenuous, it is equally disingenuous of Niki Lauda to say that all the details of the Concorde Agreement were clear for everyone to see and everyone signed totally willingly. Yes, Ms. Kaltenborn is likely using this “protest” as a last-resort to make up for her own mismanagement and incompetence, but it MUST be said that Ferrari, for example, getting the huge bonuses it gets while teams like Lotus try to just get their cars to the track is a patently uneven and unfair circumstance. I think the whole idea of “legacy teams” getting extra money just for existing is completely against the ideals of fair play and fair competition. Should there be bonuses for winning? Absolutely. If you win a race, you should get prize money. And if you win the championship you should get prize money. But beyond that, the money pool should be split up completely evenly — whoever does the best job of using that money can count their rewards in wins and added capital.

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