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GP Week : Issue 157
Formula One’s promoters appear to have missed the fact that the Formula One Teams’ Association has seen itself weakened by departing members, if this week’s news regarding the creation of FOPA is anything to go by. The Formula One Promoters’ Association was launched this week with a view to giving the circuits a unified voice in contract negotiations with FOM and in the next edition of the Concorde Agreement. All of the circuits that currently play host to an F1 grand prix have signed up to FOPA, which will be chaired by Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker. "We have historically lacked a co-ordinated voice and the Formula One Promoters Association gives us the opportunity to have that. There are a number of matters of common interest and I think it is important that those are voiced," Silverstone chairman Neil England said at the time of the FOPA announcement. But Walker’s presence at FOPA’s helm has led to raised eyebrows within the paddock, as the Australian race promoter is a close associate of FOM chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. The accepted wisdom is that Walker has been parachuted into the job to ensure that it is the interests of FOM that are served, and not the interests of the circuits or promoters. GPWEEK understands that part of FOPA’s remit is to delay the introduction of the new engine formula with a view to getting the switch dropped completely. Ecclestone has long been wary of the FIA’s proposed changes to Formula One’s engine regulations, and the F1 supremo was instrumental in getting the debut of the new engines pushed back from 2013 to 2014. He has also been an outspoken critic of the governing body’s plans to run an electric-only pitlane. While the FOM boss has seemingly unlimited power within the sport, part of the Bernie effect demands that his will be done without it being obvious that he is the man pulling the strings. Having publicly exerted his influence last year, Ecclestone now needs to step back and allow others todotheworkforhimsothatheisnot perceived as being at obvious loggerheads with the FIA. FOPA – A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING? While Charlie Whiting has issued a letter suggesting that he would rule against Red Bull IF someone protested, Red Bull's motorsport chief Helmut Marho says they weren't planning to use the same floor in Canada anyway. So there! FOPA Chairman, Ron Walker 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS