With a US Grand Prix grid reduced to 18 cars, and the whiff of ongoing boycott in the breeze, Bernie Ecclestone finally admitted that Formula One’s financial model has hit the barriers.
In a frank confession, Ecclestone said that the current commercial distribution deals, mostly brokered by him, were the root cause. “The problem is there is too much money probably being distributed badly – probably my fault,” went Ecclestone’s mea culpa. “But like lots of agreements people make, they seemed a good idea at the time.”
So, despite the fact the sport will generate in the region of £1.25bn this season, Marrusia and Caterham have entered administration and were absent from Austin and unlikely to be seen again. Their plight is cause for alarm and, for once, the fixer appears powerless.
One solution, Ecclestone said, was to rob Marco to pay Vijay.
“We have to decide the best way to sort this whole thing out. Frankly, I know what’s wrong but don’t know how to fix it. I would put that money together to divide among the three or four (teams) we know are in trouble but are not going to run away with the money, and then I will put in the same amount of money.”
To add to Bernie’s woes, three cash-strapped teams, Force India, Sauber and Lotus, had stirred up talk of no-race in Austin. The boycott was averted by the intervention of the sport’s majority shareholders, CVC Capital Partners.
The latest offer from the private equity firm which continues to suck considerable financial lifeblood from the sport, is an one-off payment of £100m to those smaller teams. That is merely a band-aid where a tourniquet is required.
Earlier this year, mindful of the looming financial kerfuffle, the FIA proposed cost capping for the 2015 season.
Those plans were abandoned in April following resistance from the F1 grandees (Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Williams) who comprise the decision-making F1 strategy group along with a sixth member – the floating best of the rest.
FIA President Jean Todt, lamented that the FIA could not not impose the cap “if the commercial rights holder [Bernie Ecclestone] and six teams are against it”.
Instead, he added, if the governing body could not enforce a cost cap then measures would have to be introduced instead through the sporting regulations. We await the FIA’s response.
Another spectre sitting in Ecclestone’s in-tray is a potential breach of an agreement between the FIA and Ecclestone’s Formula One Management over the minimum number of entries required at each race. What happens if the grid dips below the agreed minimum? A number we are not privy to.
If, the wealth distribution issue cannot be resolved, Marussia and Caterham are joined on the scrap heap, and the bigger teams are not prepared to run third cars (nor should they), where does that leave Ecclestone’s agreement?
Might there also be legal action from individual race promoters if the minimum requirements for grids are not met in Brazil and Abu Dhabi? Might all of the above trigger a parting of the ways between Ecclestone and CVC?
“It’s not like having the flu and taking a few tablets and it will disappear,” he says.
Brazil is in four days Bernie. Let’s hope the head clears by then.
Questions of Allegiance – Part II
Here at Funny Peculiar Towers, we take little pride in saying we told you so. But, when it comes to Kevin Pietersen – ons het jou gesê.
Many cricketing summers have passed since FPE grew suspicious of Pietersen’s understanding of allegiance. The recent launch of KP: The Autobiography, confirms it once and for all.
Among the many grievances aired in the sad tome, those aimed at former England coach Andy Flower are particularly sharp. “Contagiously sour. Infectiously dour. He could walk into a room and suck all the joy out of it in five seconds. Just a Mood Hoover. That’s how I came to think of him,” Pietersen claims.
But, wait, is this the same Andy Flower referenced in glowing terms by Pietersen in an interview in 2009? “My opinion of Andy has shifted hugely over the past few months. On the West Indies tour he was an absolute superstar. I loved working with him.”
Switch hit anyone?