Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz has claimed that Bernie Ecclestone should have far less say in how Formula 1 is run from a business point-of-view – and that the teams, without whom there would be no show in the first place, should have far more.
Ecclestone's Formula One Management company – in partnership with CVC – yields almost complete control over the commercial side of matters in F1, and therefore also the sport's income. Tensions, however, have already flared up of late over the distribution of revenue, with the teams insisting they should receive a greater share of the television rights than the 50 per cent that is presently the case, and Ecclestone arguing that in an age of dramatic cost-cutting, demanding more money is not a reasonable approach.
Moreover, FIA President Max Mosley recently stated that 'the idea that F1 belongs to the teams is fallacious', adding: “You don't get to own a restaurant by eating in it every night – and they haven't even eaten in it every night, apart from Ferrari.”
Indeed, the Scuderia
is the only one of the sport's competitors to have contested every year of the F1 World Championship since its official inception all the way back in 1950, but Mateschitz contends that with the teams now all united under the common umbrella of FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association), there has never been a better time to launch a joint 'takeover bid' – what he sees as the 'next logical step' in the future of the top flight.
“The teams are the ones who firstly make up F1 and also bear all the financial risk,” the energy drinks billionaire – who owns both Red Bull Racing and 'junior' outfit Scuderia Toro Rosso – told Deutsche Presse-Agentur
“They are the ones that not only have the necessary competence and expertise, but also the passion. For me, therefore, there is only one logical and ethically justifiable owner of F1 – the teams.”
Mateschitz may be a close friend of Mosley's, but he is adamant that F1 has been run in the interests of greed for far too long by those who 'have neither expertise nor passion about and for motorsport' – and in a period in which many sponsors are following Honda out of the exit door as the credit crunch increasingly tightens its grip, the Austrian insists the current status quo
cannot be allowed to prevail any longer.
“Their engagement, which is a natural under the circumstances, is simply a financial one, geared towards maximising profits,” underlined the 64-year-old. “Virtually everyone in F1 one is looking at themselves in these difficult times, [and] all of these factors contribute towards the instability of the sport. It's not only Renault; it's the same with Toyota and apparently even BMW.
“Everybody can see that the value of Formula 1 is not that which it was a year ago. The teams need to maximise their marketing value, but they also need to own the assets – that is the only way that the survival of motorsport is guaranteed on a long-term basis.”
Mateschitz's comments also have the backing of FOTA and Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, who has very publicly criticised the management of F1 on both a commercial and regulatory level.
“We think that Formula 1 has to be a normal sport that is not connected to single people,” the Italian is quoted as having said by Pitpass
. “There must be a triangle. At the top there are the teams, who invest and innovate, today more than ever before; then there's someone who manages the commercial aspects, a type of super agent, just like Ecclestone has been doing; last but not least a sporting and political authority, which takes the teams' unanimity into account and protects the sport's nature.”