Lotus Renault GP team boss Eric Boullier has called on rivals to ensure that they remain united in the face of rumours suggesting a possible change of ownership in F1.
The Frenchman was reacting to continued speculation that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation was poised to open talks about taking over the reins from CVC, possibly in conjunction with Ferrari backer Exor. Although Bernie Ecclestone has attempted to defuse the situation [see story here
], the stories refuse to go away and Boullier is keen that the hitherto strong teams' alliance isn't swayed by any overtures from the Australian.
With suggestions that Ecclestone could use Ferrari's support for his views on the forthcoming change in engine rules [see story here
] to potentially split the FOTA unity, Boullier admitted that there were concerns in the paddock, particularly with rumours that the sports leading teams were planning to meet with News Corporation representatives between the Turkish and Spanish grands prix.
"I think everybody is a bit nervous now because [of] news like this," Boullier told Reuters
reporters on the even of the race weekend at Istanbul Park, "There is a lot of talk around the new Concorde Agreement and, obviously, this news that has been released that some people could be interested in buying some share in F1. That makes a lot of stories I guess. But, actually, if it has been released, that means [the meeting] is not secret anymore and maybe not going down that path."
With a new Concorde Agreement still being negotiated between the teams, the FIA and current commercial rights holder CVC ahead of the 2013 season, there is still scope for a wedge to be driven between the teams, which have worked surprisingly well together in recent years to reduce costs and shape the future of the sport. Although Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo continues to hint at the threat of a breakaway series, Boullier is keen that the FOTA coalition remains together in the face of the latest rumours - even though his Renault team appears to in the minority over the latest engine rules.
"We all know there is some difference of interests of FOM and the FIA," said Boullier, reflecting on the rift developing between Ecclestone and governing body president Jean Todt, "It is the usual game. We have to sit down this weekend, we have a lot of meetings together and we have a FOTA meeting as well so we will see. It's always tricky for everybody to sit around one table and discuss about common points of interest when you speak about sharing some revenues and stuff like this.
"I think this little war inside the paddock is maybe fun for some journalists and some people but, to be honest, for me, it's not. We have to compete against sports like football and the Olympic Games and others which have developed drastically in terms of business. We don't expect it to be an easy job, but we will see how it goes. I don't think we are at the point to speak about there being a breakaway series and stuff like that, I think we need to first focus on being FOTA, all teams together."