The five leading independent British Formula One teams -- McLaren, Williams, Jordan, BAR and Arrows -- have joined forces to fight for control of the Formula One championship. Tom Walkinshaw, Ron Dennis and Niki Lauda. Photo by...
The five leading independent British Formula One teams -- McLaren, Williams, Jordan, BAR and Arrows -- have joined forces to fight for control of the Formula One championship.
The teams have recruited Neil Johnson, a former FIA vice president, to run GPT. Johnson has also been a marketing director at Jaguar, a director at Rover, and the CEO of the Roual Automobile Club.
With the bankruptcy of the Prost team under debts of nearly $40M early this year, the layoff of some 100 staff from BAR, and Jordan's recent loss of some $15M of sponsorship have served to heighten the level of concern about the future of the sport.
In addition, two longer-term threats loom over the series: the European Union will shortly be enforcing a tobacco advertising ban throughout the EU, and the struggling pay TV firm KirchTV owns the broadcast rights to Formula One for the next 100 years.
"Bernie [Ecclestone] has done a fantastic job", said Johnson. "But that isn't the point any more. We have an asset called Formula One, the value of which is -- in the pessimistic view -- degenerating by the race at the moment."
GPT, however, is looking to resolve the problems in the short term, rather than waiting for five years for the Concorde agreement to expire -- and possibly seeing additional teams fail before the issues are resolved.
"There is a real will for the teams to sort this out, not least because it is a matter of self-preservation," Johnson stated. " Formula One is fundamental to their future."
It remains to be seen whether the manufacturers will joing GPT in wresting control of the series from Ecclestone and KirchTV. However, at least at this time, the joint initiative must be seen as a positive move for the future of the sport.