On the eve of the announcement of Formula 1's revolutionary new budget cap, Bernie Ecclestone is continuing to play hard ball with the top flight's teams in insisting that whilst there is no extension to the Concorde Agreement, they can equally expect to receive no prize money.
The Concorde Agreement is the tri-partite binding document by which the teams and Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights-holding organisation agree over the way F1's television rights are distributed – only since the expiration of the previous contract back in 2007, no new agreement has been forthcoming.
Under the most recent deal, the teams were entitled to 47 per cent of the TV revenue, but the stalemate has arisen as they have been demanding a greater share of the financial pie, whilst refusing to commit to F1 for the long-term – leaving Ecclestone fearful that other manufacturers will follow Honda out of the exit door as a product of the global credit crunch.
The sport's ringmaster has now threatened that – should the teams persist in refusing to sign a new Concorde Agreement – they will be lucky even to get half of the current figure, which is equivalent to roughly a quarter of the sport's annual profits.
Ecclestone has also joked that the long-running dispute is 'like Israel and the Palestinians, always about to reach an agreement but never quite signing it'.
“They (the teams) shouldn't get the prize money,” the 78-year-old blasted in an interview with the Financial Times
. “They want to be paid in the same manner as if they had agreed to be committed for five years, but they don't want to be committed.
“We are now running more of a cash-on-delivery service. You sign the contract and we will pay you in full. We should revert back to the deal we originally had, and they can go where they like. We should be paying a lot less to the teams and charging the circuits a lot less.”
Indeed, Ecclestone explained that the money saved could be put to better use in bringing down the cost for venues of hosting grands prix, with many European and western countries currently struggling to retain their spots on the calendar with a raft of nations in the Middle and Far East willing to pay over and above the odds for the honour and prestige of welcoming the world's most glamorous sport – one that is regularly watched on TV by some 600 million viewers worldwide.
China, Singapore and Bahrain have joined the calendar in recent years, with Abu Dhabi, India and South Korea all either on the schedule or in the pipeline for the near future. By contrast, the French Grand Prix, US Grand Prix and Canadian Grand Prix have all disappeared and the German Grand Prix looks tenuous at best. The average annual fee to host a grand prix is reckoned to be $23.7 million.