Questions from the floor
Q: (Ian Parkes - Press Association)
Question to Eric, Jonathan and Graeme. You have talked about the Sky/BBC deal. Jonathan, you specifically mentioned about the wants and needs of the fans. Point number one is that it really doesn't matter what the fans want does it, as the deal is already done. Bernie (Ecclestone) has got the deal all signed and sealed. And, secondly, going on the reaction this morning on Twitter, on fans forums, the overwhelming majority of those fans are wholly against this deal. Can I just get your reaction to those comments.
With the latest I have been told actually about this deal, I think it is rather good news. It should be positively welcomed by the fans, even if they have not been maybe calling into a forum to discuss the idea. My understanding is there will be more TV viewers, there will be more access to F1 and F1 will broadcast much more through two different channels that are BBC, on free-to-air, and Sky, so with the latest info I have got it is a good deal, as it is good for Formula One and it is definitely much better for fans.
I am not sufficiently aware of the detail of quite how that is going to operate. What I can say is that if you look at the last two or three years then Formula One, whether through the teams' association, or whether through the FIA, has taken a number of steps to try and keep the racing exciting and grow that audience. I think everything from the fans' forum to the amount of digital content that we are now pushing out into the networks says that we are extremely interested in what the fans are doing. They are the backbone of the global reach that we have and we do listen to them, so I disagree with your first assertion that it is just riding roughshod over that, but I can understand some of the concerns when the detail isn't there.
I agree completely with Jonathan that the fans are the most important aspect as ultimately it's a very, very important part of the cycle of the commercial side of the sport that we are in. I am a great believer that the fans will tell us what they think and I think it is very difficult for us to speak on behalf of fans, that's for sure, and I think that's the same for any commentator. Time will tell whether it is good for the fans or not and I am absolutely certain, especially in this day and age, that the fans will make their view pretty clear.
Q: (Mark Meadows - Reuters)
Just a quick follow up to that. There is a bit of talk around that it is in fact in breach of the Concorde Agreement. What would be the situation with that, if indeed that is the case.
I would be pretty surprised if it was. I think Bernie knows the Concorde Agreement pretty well.
I think that is a fair comment. I am sure it has been closely scrutinised and will be the subject of much debate.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen)
Rob, as the only engine company executive here and also the representative of engines on the Formula One commission, I wonder if you could give us your comments regarding the move of Gilles Simon from the FIA to a competitor from 2014 onwards, considering that he was the man who drove the engine regulations through the FIA?
I guess the first remark is that it is very fresh news. We haven't had much of a chance to reflect on it. First reactions are fairly predictable and understandable from my part. On a personal and professional level, we've had good relations with Gilles for a long time in his present – for a couple more days – job, and in his previous job at Ferrari. Of course, it's of concern to all of us that in this close relationship with Gilles and the FIA over the past year, 18 months, that we've given unprecedented access to Gilles – we certainly have at Renault and I believe all of the engine companies have done so, particularly in respect of the state of progress in our respective engine development programmes alongside the rules package. And so, of course, we would be most concerned to be reassured that information to which Gilles has had access to in those very privileged circumstances as a representative of the FIA is not used in his new capacity as an employee of a competitor.
Q: (Dieter Rencken – The Citizen)
So to all five of you, about ten years ago Charlie Whiting considered a move from the FIA to one of the teams and that was ultimately blocked. Should a similar situation be blocked, and should safeguards be put in place for the future?
I think that is the kind of question that is the immediate extrapolation of my previous remarks, Dieter, I think Formula One as a whole needs to be conscious of. It's a very complicated sport. In order that the technical and sporting regulations can be administered successfully, then we require the governing body to have good people and they probably require to have access to the teams, and therefore there's an obvious risk that needs to be managed, if the same people can crop up in a different shirt very shortly afterwards.
Q: (Miguel Sanz– Marca)