US GP: Friday press conference transcript, part 2

United States Grand Prix FIA Press Conference Ron Dennis (McLaren) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Tony Purnell (Jaguar) David Richards (BAR) Paul Stoddart (Minardi Friday, June 18, 2004 Part 2 of 3 Q: I'll ask a question on settlement of rules or ...

United States Grand Prix FIA Press Conference
Ron Dennis (McLaren)
Eddie Jordan (Jordan)
Tony Purnell (Jaguar)
David Richards (BAR)
Paul Stoddart (Minardi
Friday, June 18, 2004

Part 2 of 3

Q: I'll ask a question on settlement of rules or whatever it is. The crux of the matter very clearly is a commercial deal. And if there's a commercial deal, everything else will follow from that. Now, it seems to me that Ferrari has a deal. I would like to know if any of you have agreed terms on a deal? If not, why not? Are there any sensible offers on the table, starting with Eddie?

JORDAN: Is that because you know I would give you a truthful answer? Wouldn't bet on it. (Laughter) I never knowingly told a lie. A lie is always sinful, you know that, Joe? (Laughter) The answer is -- he's spellbound, first time ever. No, I have never been offered a deal. I've heard talk about a deal and there's no deal on the plate for Jordan that I know about, and I wish there was at least something that we can look at and think about and drool over.

STODDART: I'm probably worse than that; I've never even had a deal discussed with me. I have no knowledge of it whatsoever. I don't feel being serious that we're going to move forward with many things in Formula One until there is a new commercial deal, and that's just a simple fact.

PURNELL: Joe, I echo that. At the moment we've got a sport with a degree of crisis coming up with this great uncertainty of where the commercial side of life ends up. It's something that other sports have faced, especially over in the States. Where you end up is that you have the technical regulations, but we're going to need some commercial regulation, as well. It happens in business, and certainly the way Formula One is structured at the moment where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer doesn't lend itself to competition because money is such an important element of this sport. So it would be lovely to think that you could come up with a commercial arrangement somewhat inspired by the sport's out here where there's franchises, there's salary caps, there's things like drafts, you know, the weakest teams get the pick of the best players, things like that, which is a commercial regulation, is what the sport needs. And certainly I hope the mighty forces are going to act to produce something like that and make the sport good for everybody over the next 20 years. But certainly I've had no offer.

DENNIS: It's not really a yes/no answer. I think you've got to go to the reach of the issue. The fact is that we are governed at the moment technically and commercially through to 2007 by a contract that we all willingly signed and we're all party to it. The pressure to establish a new commercial arrangement with the teams, strangely enough it's not as a result of the teams asking for money or a bigger slice. That's not where the pressure is. The pressure comes from the fact that the banks, the three banks who inherited equity by way of the demise of Kirch, and prior to that EMTV are sacked with significant debt or equity, however you want to interpret it, on their books. And they know that there is a -- that equity is reducing in value as we move closer to the end of 2007. Two of the banks have taken the prudent view of significantly writing down the value of that equity. One bank, whose involvement is currently indirectly underwritten by a government, is reluctant to write that equity down. So we have a strong desire of those three banks and the remaining shareholder to construct a commercial deal that is attractive to us enough to sign or extend either the existing agreement or a new agreement. So that there's very much a pressure on us to agree to some sort of commercial arrangement for the future. There is the inevitable soundbite language; we are only getting 23 percent of the revenue, we would like a bigger share. There's all the things that we can accurately put into the pot, but the fact remains that our destiny at the moment is not in our own hands. We're bound by a contract that we intend to honor and any movement away from that is going to require some pretty Herculean negotiations from a variety of people. And I don't think the banks realize yet how precarious their position is. And until they do, no one's going to really move from the position they've adopted. That's my view.

RICHARDS: I've forgotten the question. (Laughter)

JORDAN: Sorry, Joe, did we get an answer to the question?

Q: We got an answer from some people, yes.

DENNIS: I have an understanding of what commercial options are available to all of the teams at the moment, and the guys behind me, I'm quite sure, do not have as much information as they should have; and that is unfortunately part of the inevitable process of negotiation, keep as many people in the dark as possible, divide and rule. Am I part of a divide-and-rule strategy? Most definitely not.

RICHARDS: I've certainly not had an offer made to me, but I've had it presented to me in the form that is, I assume, going to be presented in the longer term as a renewed Concorde Agreement just as the loose outline of it; but I'm pretty sure Eddie has had the same discussions, as well. So I don't think any of us have had a privileged position.

Q: But you haven't agreed to anything?

JORDAN: Were you offered a deal? The answer is no.

RICHARDS: No, not offered a deal, but I've been shown the basis on which it will be presented.

STODDART: Tony and me have seen something. Eddie has made his point very clear, and the other boys have seen some.

JORDAN: I got a piece of paper with a post-it, and there are some pieces of paper under the post-it. Are you joking? I can show you. I mean have you been shown a structured deal? The answer is no, I haven't.

RICHARDS: Not in a form that's acceptable at the moment.

JORDAN: Have you seen an organized document, Ron?

DENNIS: No.

JORDAN: David, have you?

RICHARDS: No, I've seen the financial structure and the way it's put to us.

JORDAN: Was it on a post-it? (Laughter).

RICHARDS: Not that I recall.

STODDART: I will check the back of my packet here.

Q: Question for Tony. In the light of rumors that HSBC may not be continuing their sponsorship of Jaguar Racing next year, could you comment on stories circulating here which suggests that Sir Jackie Stewart, a non-executive director of Jaguar Racing, may have been hawking another bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, as a sponsor to other teams?

JORDAN: I love that one.

PURNELL: Jackie has acted correctly in that he informed the board and the HSBC that he was going to take up a roll with the Royal Bank of Scotland. So there's nothing untoward there. But your suggesting here that sort of an act of betrayal which would be inconceivable, I think, for a director of a Formula One team, and you know, you've got to bear in mind Jackie is the father of Jaguar Racing. He's worked for Ford for 40 years. And you know, he's got huge standing in the sport. That implies a set of first-class ethics. So, you know, I'm inclined to discount that as rumor making and, you know, for sure Jackie's always assured us that he's steadfastly behind the team, and I'm sure he is.

Q: Some more questions?

Q: Tony George has advocated his desire to see another United States Grand Prix possibly on the West coast or something. He believes it would only help benefit this event. How do you feel about a second United States Grand Prix?

DENNIS: I think we'd all support it, providing it didn't increase the calendar size. I think a West coast race would be very beneficial to the commercial interests of all of our teams and probably Formula One as a whole.

RICHARDS: I think we've also got to think how do we get better penetration into America per se? You know, someone was telling me a story at lunchtime about how little awareness there was of Formula One despite the fact that we're here this weekend, we were in Montreal last weekend. Does an extra race in the West coast, will that help us? I'm sure it will do, but there's still an awful lot of work to be done with what we do already. As far as extra events are concerned, I have a slightly different view. I would like to do extra events and far less testing. I think extra events drive revenue and increase the value to everybody, and testing does absolutely none of that.

JORDAN: Just a thing, I mean there's also a rumor around that will there be a renewal of the contract on the options currently here at Indianapolis? And it's my desire, certainly is as team principal of Jordan, that there is. I think it has been a huge success and you must be a little patient. I remember not very long ago going to Barcelona to a handful of people, of going to Canada to a handful of people, and they have turned out to be probably two of the best supported events on our calendar. So I'm quite certain things will turn around. We also have to get our act together. We do realize in an American context we are not close enough to the people. We must make sure that we think carefully about this, how we -- we understand we have technology and we have newfangled cars and stuff, but we have to reach out and make that extra effort, and that is part of the American culture, and it's not for them to change, it's for us to change. If you're going to have another race in America, will you please have it in Boston so as I can get more paddys on board because this is ridiculous going off to the West coast of America doesn't suit me all. Thank you very much.

STODDART: I think a West coast race would be great, but I echo Ron's words that we need to look very carefully at the calendar; 18 races is a killer. We don't do a lot of testing, so I look at it from a purely race point of view and I look at people that are getting severely burned out. I fear 20 races, I really do.

PURNELL: From Ford's point of view, we'd be delighted to have another American race. It's an American company, the biggest market for Jaguar. I think the only caution is that Americans like to be entertained, and if we don't entertain them, it won't catch on. Simple as that.

Q: Some more questions? Let's go down back here.

Q: Tony, just going back to something you said at the beginning of this conference that Jaguar is very disappointed with the results this season. Halfway through the season, what's been the reaction from your parent company, Ford, to the season?

PURNELL: They've been pretty good, really. They never give me a hard time about results. They're very steady as a company. That's my relationship with them. So, you know, no complaints, no accolades. They were impressed in Malaysia, I have to say. We need to pull something out of the bag to give everybody in the team a lift, and for sure that's what we're trying to do. Would this be a nice weekend to do it?

Q: Eddie, your impassioned plea earlier about keeping the three-week break, is that because you're under specific pressure to give it away?

JORDAN: Joe, I'm not sure you're on this planet. (Laughter) Did you hear what I said? I said that it was a purely humanitarian wish.

Q: Yes, I know, but you said you wanted to keep it.

JORDAN: We are trying to keep it.

Q: But are you under any specific pressure?

JORDAN: No, not at all. It does come up every year, why do we need to have the three-week gap. I think in particular before David was on board, I think Ron was a very great supporter in this respect. Is that right, Ron? Three-week gap?

DENNIS: Yes, certainly was. You're quite right. Not under pressure other than every time the calendar comes up for review, it comes under pressure.

Q: How would you get 20 races?

DENNIS: Exactly.

JORDAN: You divide 20 into 52. (Laughter) I think you get something like -- what? How do you work it out, then, Joe?

Q: You're very given to numbers.

JORDAN: I've had to be. (Laughter)

Q: Some more questions?

Q: This habit of having a three-week break and having like a testing ban in the winter is relatively new. Can you explain to us why has it become so important in the last few years? Because you never used to have that 10 years ago.

DENNIS: Well, I mean if you go back to when I think I started motor racing in '66, I think we had eight Grand Prixs, and there's huge amounts of time between the races. Now it's just a question, it's, you know, Eddie uses the expression humanitarian, I mean just all, everybody that's working in Grand Prixs have some family and it allows the teams to plan a holiday in the middle of what is an intense racing season. It's as simple as that. It's not complicated. Winter testing, the bans that are in effect at the end and beginning of and middle of the season is purely to save money, and again, to stop the teams putting pressure on themselves to perform. Because inevitably, you know, if there's an opportunity to improve your team, you're going to take it. If that opportunity is taken away from you, then clearly you can focus on other issues, and perhaps one of those issues is giving people time off, which is desperately important.

Part 3

-fia-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Jordan , Paul Stoddart , Tony George , David Richards
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Minardi , Jaguar Racing , Jordan