by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 213
21 GPWEEK.com // 21 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: AN IDEA wHOSE TIME HAS COME OPINION We like to think of teams as sporting entities, bodies that thrill in the delight of pure competition. What we forget is that teams are comprised of human beings, people full of ego and insecurities and all of the other nonsense that is part and parcel of simply being. In an ideal world, teams would be able to lay their egos and insecurities to one side, making decisions for the greater good. That ideal world is probably populated with puppies, unicorns, and endless rainbows, each of which has an infinite pot of gold at the end. Formula One’s current state of crisis has been partly created by the teams’ self-interest, and partly by a commercial rights holder whose tendency to offer sweetheart deals to those willing to accept them has seen the teams fall prey to divide and conquer for generations. While the favoured teams are only just beginning to accept that their self-interest is one of the greatest threats faced by Formula One at present, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has both accepted culpability for his part in the current state of affairs and mooted the prospect of offering his formerly favoured children a ‘like it or lump it’ deal aimed at securing the sport’s long-term future. Speaking to a select group of invited journalists in the Austin paddock, Ecclestone acknowledged the role he had played in helping to create the environment which has seen both Caterham and Marussia collapse in the two short weeks between the Russian and US Grands Prix. "The problem is there is too much money probably being distributed badly – probably my fault,” he said. "But like lots of agreements people make, they seemed a good idea at the time." It was a refreshing admission for Ecclestone, who at 84 years old is more switched on to the financial realities currently facing Formula One than the likes of Toto Wolff (right) and Eric Boullier, both of whom spent the Friday press conference in Austin defending the way in which their corporate self-interest has led to widespread job losses and a sport in crisis. “The rational side of things is that we have seen in the past that teams come and go,” Wolff said. “We have seen great teams who have folded, went into liquidation or administration. ... Now, is that something that should happen? No, of course it shouldn’t. But when Formula One was opened up for new teams to join, you can’t compare the agenda of the teams. In our case, we are representing a multinational car company. This is a branding exercise, we are showcasing our technology. And on the other side, if you look at Marussia and Caterham when they joined the sport it was an entrepreneur deciding to join Formula One and maybe underestimating what it meant joining that field. “I think we all need to sit down,” Wolff continued, “not with our own little narrow agenda of wanting to win the championship – and this is why I am paid, and why Eric [Boullier] is paid – but by looking at the whole of Formula One. But like in any other sport, like in any other industry, this is the pinnacle. This is the pinnacle of motor racing and if you want to complete at the pinnacle of motor racing then you need to have the resources of competing there. This is a high entry barrier sport.” While Wolff is entirely right about the high cost of competing in Formula One, he ignored the fact that his is one of the few privileged teams whose pre-racing financial advantage – in the form of a tidy multi-million dollar bonus from the CRH – makes the notion of a fair fight impossible. Which is where Bernie comes in. In his Saturday media session he raised the possibility of simply enforcing his will on the well- funded teams with a view to ensuring a long-term future for the sport as a whole. “I think it’s probably what will have to happen,” Ecclestone said. “But it would be nice for them to think. Because they are sitting back very comfortably. All Mercedes want to do, and I don’t blame them, is win the world championship. And they should. They’ve done a bloody good job, they haven’t cheated, they’ve followed the regulations faithfully so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. None of these things are their fault. “I’m not happy,” he continued. “And we’ll have to do something about it. Because we can’t all sit back nicely. relaxed and think the problem will go away. It’s not like having the flu and take a few tablets and it will disappear. I think the situation is such that if enough people want it resolved, we can resolve it. It’s a case of the people that are involved in the sport will have to want to look after the sport and prepared to make some sacrifices. “I would tear all the contracts up,” Ecclestone concluded. “Take all the money, pay all the teams’ debts that should be paid so people haven’t suffered because of Formula One. And people haven’t got credit for Formula One. And then say this is what you are going to get next year, this is the amount of money we’ve got and this is what is going to happen from now on in. It’s percentages.” OPINION Kate waLKeR