Bernie Ecclestone has used the traditional day off at the Monaco Grand Prix to suggest that unanimity has been reached with all twelve F1 teams to sign the latest version of the Concorde Agreement.
The announcement, made via CNN World Sport
, comes as some surprise as Ecclestone was thought to still be at odds with a couple of teams, most notably Mercedes, over the incentives on offer for those signing up.
Although the sport's current 'big-hitters' - Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren - were all understood to have reached verbal agreement with Ecclestone, both Williams and Mercedes had not, and remained on the sidelines along with relative newcomers Caterham, Marussia and HRT. While FOTA defectors Red Bull and Ferrari were known to have received 'bonuses' for becoming the first signatories, rumours of other payments - particularly those based on conditions including winning constructors' titles since 2000, not changing identity in the same period, or winning titles in any two or more consecutive seasons including or after 2008 - irked Mercedes, who failed to qualify under any option.
Incensed by the lack of equality in the deals on offer, and looking to receive recognition for its long-standing relationship with grand prix racing stretching back to the 1950s, the only mass manufacturer left on the grid following Renault's withdrawal threatened to take the matter further, even as far legal action under EU competition law, but stopped short of suggesting that it would quit the sport in protest - a move that could potentially threaten engine customers McLaren and Force India.
That threat now appears to have receded, with Ecclestone revealing that all twelve teams had reached an agreement that will ensure F1's future for at least the next seven years.
"We've just got all the current teams to sign up until 2020, and then I hope another ten years after that, and then forever," he told CNN World Sport
, "Everybody has agreed with it."
While Mercedes has yet to confirm its part in the agreement, Ecclestone insisted that he wasn't worried about anyone holding out.
"You'll have to wait to see if Mercedes have, but I'm confident everything with Mercedes will be fine," he added, "I appreciate and support Mercedes probably more than anyone in F1, but the way it was done was on results and we couldn't falsify the results because if we did other people would complain."
Ecclestone's announcement is, of course, perfectly timed to help push forward the planned public offering of shares in F1, likely to be offered by rights holder CVC on the Singapore stock market next month.