Is the threat of a manufacturers' break away series to rival Formula One from 2008 about to be finally put to rest? We've heard it many times before but reports in the British press suggest that Bernie Ecclestone is expecting to settle the dispute...
Is the threat of a manufacturers' break away series to rival Formula One from 2008 about to be finally put to rest? We've heard it many times before but reports in the British press suggest that Bernie Ecclestone is expecting to settle the dispute with the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) as early as this weekend's season opener in Bahrain.
The GPMA -- Mercedes, BMW, Renault, Honda and Toyota -- is (possibly) the last incarnation of the manufacturer group that has been around for some time now, threatening to split from F1 and form its own series once the current Concorde Agreement ends. A fairer distribution of the sport's income and greater transparency are two of its key aims.
Recently there has been talk that a resolution is looking more and more likely and Ecclestone believes that it will come sooner rather than later. "I would be surprised if all the issues between us are not settled before the race in Bahrain," he said, according to the Telegraph.
"What we can agree on the technical side is dependent on how much money they want to save, but they will save a huge amount without adversely affecting the technical excellence of F1. It will remain the pinnacle of motor sport."
"We cannot continue to look as if this sport is a battle of the biggest budget. That way, at current spending, will ruin the sport and the companies. There is a point, probably long since past, when the cost of trying to win races and the championship outweighs the value of being successful. I think there is a mood of conciliation now. The teams will earn double what they got before."
Ferrari, formerly a member of the original manufacturer group, was first to break ranks and sign an extension of the Concorde Agreement from 2008. No longer in partnership with BMW, Williams followed suit in December, a move that was speculated to weaken the rebel group further -- although not a manufacturer team, Williams is one of the sport's biggest names.
Williams said that it had signed as an "improved distribution of commercial revenues among participating teams" was agreed. Red Bull, MF1 and Toro Rosso are also on board, leaving an even split of five committed to F1 and five still refusing to budge. It's believed that new outfit Super Aguri has recently signed the Concorde Agreement as well.
In February FIA President Max Mosley called on the manufacturer teams to sign up to F1 for 2008 or risk losing their place on the grid. A World Motor Sport Council meeting is scheduled for March 22nd and after that the teams reportedly have a 10-day window of opportunity in which to lodge their entries for 2008.