A very careful bluff

This seems to be the latest instalment in the battle for power in Formula One. For many months, manufacturers led by Fiat, Ford, BMW, Renault and Daimler Chrysler have demanded a greater say in the running of the sport, and a bigger slice of the...

This seems to be the latest instalment in the battle for power in Formula One.

For many months, manufacturers led by Fiat, Ford, BMW, Renault and Daimler Chrysler have demanded a greater say in the running of the sport, and a bigger slice of the huge revenues it generates from TV rights.

F1 insiders feel that the decision made by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) is a negotiating ploy, and that nobody wants a breakaway championship.

Having two rival championships would not be in the interests of anyone involved in the sport.

Formula One would certainly not benefit from the absence of its leading carmakers, such as Renault, Ford and Fiat.

And manufacturers taking part in a series that was not F1 would be unable to draw on the same sort of public appeal.

It would also mean that the TV companies would own the rights to a competition with no big names.

Carving up the business

The problems of having two rival championships can be seen in American Indy car racing.

It is a perfect example of how a car manufacturer's involvement does not guarantee worldwide appeal.

But nevertheless, the ACEA are trying to get hold of some shares in the Formula One business.

With a 75% stake in the commercial and broadcasting rights, the German media group Kirch and its partner EM. TV have a serious influence on the sport.

No doubt, Kirch is the company that the manufacturers will try to buy the shares from. While the stand-off could continue for some time, the end result has to be Formula One remaining the sport's only championship, but with a redistribution of the shares.

F1's governing body, the FIA, has said it would approve of any changes so long as safety requirements were met, but that does not mean it is in favour of it.

The FIA's agreement with the plans is just its standard response to any group of people who wish to set up a motorsport championship of any description.

In reality, it will be wishing that this is sorted out as soon as possible.

So it is likely that high level negotiations are already going on with FIA boss Max Mosley, F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, the manufacturers, and the TV companies.

It is difficult to say what will happen or how long the battle will go on for.

But it will be sorted out at some point, and the balance of power is likely to have shifted considerably.

-FOSA-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Bernie Ecclestone