Rumours that FOTA defectors Ferrari and Red Bull could be offered a stake in the future ownership of F1 have created a stir in the Albert Park paddock - only for news articles covering the story to be pulled...
Speculation that there was an impending announcement concerning the running of the sport apparently started in the build-up to the Australian Grand Prix, before Sky News
correspondent Mark Kleinman - the man behind reports of supposed F1 takeovers by News International and/or Exor - broke the silence by claiming that Ferrari was to be offered a shareholding in the sport as a condition of its signing up to the proposed Concorde Agreement extension. Red Bull's exit from FOTA, which came at the same time as the Scuderia's late in 2011, then saw the reigning world champions included in paddock rumours suggesting a similar offer.
Kleinman also claimed that investment bank Goldman Sachs had been asked to prepare a share placement on behalf of F1 commercial rights owner CVC as the first step towards a potential stock market listing. However, the journalist's blog entry giving further details of the story disappeared suddenly on Sunday morning, amid suggestions that he had revealed the contents of private legal documents....
F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, who looks after the rights on behalf of CVC, has confirmed that news regarding the structure of the sport was 'on its way', with respected journalist Adam Cooper reporting that the share placement would value F1 at 'well over £10bn' and would likely involve shares currently owned by Lehman Brothers, which holds a 15.3 per cent stake in the sport. Cooper also suggests that Ferrari and RBR would get preferential treatment if they become the first teams to commit to the new Concorde Agreement, which is due to cover the 2013-2020 seasons.
Toro Rosso and Sauber are also known to have quit the teams' association, while minnow HRT has not been a member for some time, but there is no mention of where they may stand with regard to the Concorde Agreement. However, as customers of Ferrari, they would reasonably be expected to follow the Scuderia's move.
Ferrari and Red Bull, like Ecclestone [see story here
], are reportedly in favour of being able to offer customer cars to smaller teams, and Cooper claims that there was mention of single car customer deals being offered to new entrants in future. Ecclestone, however, also spoke of the need to have a spending cap [see story here
] in order to preserve the future of F1, something that Ferrari, in particular, is known to have opposed unless it can be properly policed. RBR also quit FOTA over concerns about the current Resource Restriction Agreement.
The rumours come just over a week after after the man believed to have been next in line to succeed Ecclestone as the head of F1, David Campbell, decide to relinquish his position at CVC-owned Allsport Management, the Geneva-based company that handles trackside advertising and sponsorship, merchandising and corporate hospitality through F1's Paddock Club [see story here