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GP Week : Issue 144
F1 NEWS >> THE future of the Formula One Teams’ Association and the Resource Restriction Agreement have both come under the microscope in recent weeks, with reports that arguments over the RRA are tearing FOTA apart. A FOTA meeting originally scheduled for the Abu Dhabi race weekend took place in Interlagos on Friday, and team bosses discussed how best to manage the RRA in future. According to an official statement from FOTA, no decisions have yet been made. “ We had a productive meeting,” the spokesman said. “A variety of options were discussed, and one of them is for the RRA to be put outside of FOTA. But none of these options have been agreed upon yet.” One option, which has been widely reported but not yet adopted, is a proposal to move the responsibility of enforcing the RRA to an external body. FOTA currently manages the process itself. Inevitably, part of the problem is self-interest. Each of the teams has its own interests to protect, but there is also the wider goal of preserving the current level of cooperation between the teams. Speaking after the meeting on Friday, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner spoke of the importance of the RRA, and the challenge of managing the document given the differing needs of Formula One’s 12 teams. “I think an RRA is important for F1 and I think all the teams are unanimous on that,” he said. “I think the thing that isn’t quite clear is how to achieve it in a way that fits everybody’s business models, that some of the teams are different.” It was reported over the weekend that the five biggest teams – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes, and Renault – would seek to meet in order to find a mutually acceptable compromise before returning to FOTA with new proposals. RRA to move from FOTA? AFTER months of rumours, the details of the BBC and Sky’s joint F1 coverage plans have finally been confirmed. The BBC will show China, Spain, Monaco, Europe, Britain, Belgium, Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi, and Brazil live, with the remaining races reduced to 90- and 120-minute highlights. Despite the reduction in coverage, the BBC will still send a crew of reporters to every race. Jake Humphrey, David Coulthard, and Lee McKenzie will remain with the BBC, while David Croft is believed to be moving to Sky alongside Martin Brundle, who is confirmed. “In 2012 I will be working with Sky Sports F1 television,” Brundle wrote in his column for the Sunday Times. “ The fact that their newly-announced and dedicated F1 channel will have no in-race advertising was a key factor, but most importantly I need to commentate on every race live. Recorded and delayed sports television doesn’t give me the adrenalin fix I crave. “ There will also be more airtime for the technical features I so enjoy crafting. It’s been a privilege to be part of the BBC team, but now I have a new motivation and challenge.” Sky will show all practice sessions, qualifying, and races live, on a dedicated F1 channel announced this week. Sky Sports F1 will also show archive footage and specialist programming, all of which will be supported by interactive content. “Formula One followers are hungry for more and we want to give them the ultimate experience,” said Sky Sports MD Barney Francis. It’s not just every minute of every race but a channel devoted to Formula One. “We can now tell the whole story of the season, from every grand prix, from start to finish. Formula One will get the full Sky Sports treatment. We have big plans for live shows and a rich line-up of Formula One programmes; getting to the drivers, exploring the technology and lapping up the drama. “With a dedicated channel for Formula One we can also give all sports fans the depth and breadth of sports they demand every weekend, right through the year.” The BBC’s decision to split coverage with Sky Sports has led to an outcry among British Formula 1 fans, many of whom object to the move from free-to-air television. The deal was announced at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and took F1 by surprise. Sky/BBC announce 2012 UK plans ... THERE was a new twist to the Austin Grand Prix saga this week when it emerged that COTA had agreed to pay Bernie Ecclestone the monies owed, but had refused to sign the contract supplied by FOM. “Circuit of the Americas has responded to Formula One Management’s contract requirements by agreeing to an immediate cash payment of the sanctioning fee for the 2012 United States Grand Prix (US GP),” the race organisers said in a statement. “In addition, Circuit of The Americas has offered to establish an advance payment schedule for US GP races beyond 2012. The offer comes after several weeks of talks, and once accepted, will secure the US GP on the Formula One race calendar.” According to COTA boss Bobby Epstein, the contract to hold the race included terms that he and his colleagues could not commit to, so the organisation took the unusual step of returning a signed contract to Ecclestone containing only those clauses which they agreed to. “We have been ready to send Mr. Ecclestone a sanctioning fee check for some time now,” Epstein said of COTA’s struggles. “He hasn’t received it yet because the new contract presented to us two weeks ago contained unrealistic and unfeasible demands. We have signed and returned a contract similar to what we anticipated receiving. “This race should be a reality, but if we are going to make the 2012 race date, we must receive a countersignature in the coming few days. We believe the teams, fans, sponsors and local business share our enthusiasm and hope that their voices will be heard.” When Ecclestone was informed of Epstein’s comments in the Interlagos paddock, the F1 supremo responded in his own inimical style. “ Yeah, well they shouldn’t sign [the contract],” Ecclestone said. “My advice to them is don’t sign it. And they probably won’t get the opportunity.” US GP promoters take “original” approach to contract Images used in GPWEEK are shot by the photo-artists at Sutton Images. Posters available of any shot – CLICK HERE for more information Interested in Aussie V8 Supercars? CLICK HERE to access Australasian Motorsport eNews ... Images used in GPWEEK are shot by the photo-artists at Sutton Images. Posters available of any shot – CLICK HERE for more information Interested in Aussie V8 Supercars? CLICK HERE to access Australasian Motorsport eNews ... The world of MoTorsporT direcTly To your deskTop IssueNo. 146 March16-22 2010 WHINCUP INA FORMULA 1 CAR AT ALBERT PARK REIGNINGCHAMPS SETFORF1/V8 CARSWAP NEXTWEEK – FULLDETAILS INSIDE! POWER PLAY! Aussies fight it out inIndyCar opener – and Will wins! EXCLUSIVE!