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GP Week : Issue 173
w BRIEFLY » While good manners are never unwelcome, those with a public profile would do well to ensure that they always treat their underlings with grace. On the Dubai-Delhi flight on Wednesday, the stewardesses from first class were so incensed by the rude behaviour of one of their passengers that they kept popping back to complain to their colleagues in steerage. Apparently an F1 driver “called Alfonso Fernandes or something” decided that the best way to ensure prompt service from the flight crew was to snap his fingers while calling ‘hey you’. Now who could that have been? » Disgruntled Kingfisher Airlines employees were planning to encircle the Buddh International Circuit in an attempt to get Vijay Mallya to finally pay staff seven months’ of unpaid wages. While that would have been something of a spectacle, Mallya avoided the action by agreeing to pay up in stages. March’s unpaid salaries were paid on Friday, April’s will be paid by the end of October, and May’s before Diwali, which this year takes place on 13 November. That leaves four months’ wages yet to be paid, and with no timescale laid down. Despite that, however, the airline's employees have decided to take their paymasters at their word, and will be returning to work. Unfortunately, the planes are still grounded and they're not allowed to fly... F1 >>> NEWS Germany ’s Bayern LB bank, former part-owners of Formula One and former employers of Gerhard Gribkowsky, have made contact with Bernie Ecclestone’s representatives, seeking what they claim is more than $400 million in lost earnings from the 2005 sale of their F1 stake to CVC Capital Partners. The sale was negotiated through board member Gribkowsky, who has since been found guilty of accepting a $44 million bribe from Ecclestone for his part in the sale. Bayern LB now want that $44 million from Ecclestone, plus the sum they claim to have lost as the result of the alleged of the devaluation of the bank’s stake: a total of $409 million. Despite Bayern LB’s claim, Ecclestone remains unconcerned, and has yet to respond to the bank’s request. “They have asked our lawyers in Germany if they could have $400 million back,” Ecclestone told reporters in the Indian paddock on Friday. “I didn’t respond. There’s no point, is there? They will sue. If they win, they get paid. If they lose, it will cost them. That’s all. “A massive percent of these actions that take place, people settle. They don’t want the trouble. The very reason I gave Gribkowsky money was to stop the problem and aggravation which would have gone on for years.” But settling isn’t an option in this case, Ecclestone asserted. “I’ve been blackmailed twice,” he said. “I don’t want it to be a third time. But there’s nothing to worry about. I’m not worried. I’m aggravated with the nonsense I’m being put through for all this. I sold the shares for the bank. It was something they couldn’t sell. They had six people look at it and wouldn't buy. I got them out of trouble and now I’m in trouble. Life is like that sometimes.” “I’ve been under a cloud for three years. Dieter [Hahn] sued me two years ago. I’m still waiting for that to come to court. If this [Bayern LB action] goes to court in England, maybe different things will come out. But there's nothing to stop me running F1.” Four years into the global financial crisis that has brought much of the western world to its knees, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone finally appears to have accepted the impact of the new economic reality on his sport. Recent contract renegotiations have seen a previously unheard of flexible approach from Ecclestone, who has accepted lower race hosting fees in exchange for longer contracts with government-back guarantees, and this week the 82-year-old spoke of his support for a budget cap within Formula One. “We’re looking at the right way to put [a budget cap] in,” Ecclestone said. “What we’re trying to do is reduce the necessity to spend money to be competitive so somebody can come in to a sensible budget and be competitive, not have to spend a fortune. I am talking about [a $250 million] maximum spend on everything in Formula One ... not marketing, but drivers’ salaries, whatever.” One team that has taken a solitary stance in discussions of cost control is Red Bull, who oppose an FIA-mandated Resource Restriction Agreement that doesn’t include spending on engines. “We are fully in favour of costs being controlled in the sport, we just disagree with the mechanism,” Horner said in the Indian paddock. “At the moment, how they are presented to control those costs and our concern is that different entities, different organisations are treated differently in what is proposed so far. It doesn't include the engine, for example, so there's freedom to spend, at the moment, on the engine, particularly the new power train in 2014. “But I think that what has come out of the discussions recently – and with the formation of a new Concorde Agreement, it gives the opportunity to sit down with our colleagues and hopefully agree a strategy on what does work and what does control costs,” he continued. “Currently, as proposed, the RRA doesn't deal with so many aspects, whether it be KERS, for example, whether it be exhausts, whether it be drivers, whether it be other aspects of spend and cost drivers in Formula One,” Horner concluded. “So hopefully there will be that opportunity over the coming weeks and we remain committed to ensuring that there is a workable solution that’s transparent, that’s fair, that’s balanced for all the participants.” Given the close relationship between Ecclestone and Horner – the two men and their partners joined Sebastian Vettel and his girlfriend for an intimate dinner on Thursday night in Greater Noida – the Red Bull team principal’s stance on the RRA is seen by many paddock insiders as Ecclestone’s attempt to destabilise FIA president Jean Todt, who has made the expensive engine spec change a cornerstone of his presidency. ECCLESTONE BACKS F1 BUDGET CAP BAYERN LB SEND BERNIE AN INVOICE 7 GPWEEK.com // 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: