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GP Week : Issue 14
F1 NEWS >> MAX Mosley’s win in last week’s confidence vote at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the FIA has thrust Formula 1 into a race against time with regard to the resolution of a new Concorde Agreement. F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone called a meeting of the sport’s Team Principals on Friday afternoon in Canada with the intention of finding a solution to Concorde Agreement discussions, but rumours after the meeting suggested that the topic of a breakaway championship had been mooted as a potential avenue should the teams and Ecclestone (as Commercial Rights Holder) fail to reach an adequate conclusion with the FIA over the future direction of Formula 1. It is understood that the major sticking point in Concorde negotiations is the FIA and, in particular, Mosley. Quite apart from the sleaze now associated with Mosley’s name, with many of the commercial and financial considerations thought to have been resolved, the FIA – and Mosley as its President – is now believed to be the last remaining stumbling block over a new deal. “I think Max really would like a Concorde Agreement that is more suited to the FIA,” Ecclestone said during an impromptu press call in the F1 media centre in Montreal. “We have been discussing what we are putting in a Concorde Agreement, which we have spent two years trying to get signed. But these guys can never make up their mind. One team wants something, another team something else and another team another.” Ecclestone and CVC Partners own and promote the sport of Formula 1, but it is the FIA which holds the rights for the Formula 1 name and regulations. These are the two iaspects a breakaway championship would not be able to adopt. However, Ecclestone’s Formula One Promotions and Administration company (FOPA) already owns the ‘GP1’ trademark. With CVC having purchased the GP2 Series in 2007 for a reputed US$250 million, and FOPA also holding the ‘GP3’ trademark, it is perfectly conceivable that a ‘GP1’ championship could be set up … with GP2 and GP3 on the same bill. Ecclestone has worked hard to build up the F1 ‘brand’, and to give that up will take a major leap of faith not just from Ecclestone himself, but from CVC, 75% owners of the sport and the men to whom he is now ultimately answerable. The Briton denied that any discussions had taken place over a breakaway championship, but that has not stopped the rumours from appearing in the press. Ecclestone will be mindful of his last attempt at setting up a championship independent from the FIA. In 1981, the World Professional Driver’s Championship, organised by Ecclestone, held its first and only race at Kylami in South Africa, with all the F1 teams in attendance save for FISA supporters Ferrari and Renault. This show of strength was enough to signal his power and the teams’ disillusion with the FISA (now the FIA) and the eventual resolution saw a reunified F1 and the creation of the first Concorde Agreement. While such a political masterstroke may have worked 27 years ago, the sport can ill afford to be playing similar games at times such as these. Concorde or Breakaway – F1 on the brink 11