The president of the FIA, Jean Todt, has indicated that the sport is now very close to signing off on a new Concord Agreement, and said that he is confident that one will finally be agreed and signed in the coming weeks.
The Concord Agreement is the commercial contract between the FIA, the F1 teams and the Bernie Ecclestone-led Formula One
Management (FOM) which holds the commercial rights to the sport. The agreement is the 'terms and conditions' under which Grand Prix racing is held, deciding among other things how the revenue from the sport is shared out between the various parties.
"I think we have all the ingredients to allow the FIA
and FOM and the teams to finalise the signatures," Todt told the Financial Times
newspaper on Monday. "All the discussions we have agreed, and we are in the situation where we need to finalise it in writing. I am confident it should happen in the coming weeks."
The previous Concord Agreement expired at the end of 2012 and renegotiation talks have stretched out into the start of the 2013 F1 world championship, with the FIA's seeking of a bigger slice of the income from FOM thought to be a particular sticking point and which had already led to a big hike in drivers' entry fees for 2013 Grand Prix races.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said on Friday in Melbourne said that the delay wasn't causing any problems to the sport in the short term, which was able to carry on with business as usual in the interim.
"I think it's sustainable but it isn't desirable," he said, when asked if carrying on without a Concord Agreement for much longer was possible. "Is it sustainable for a few more months? Yes. Is it healthy and the right thing for years to come in the sport? No."
Whitmarsh said that it helped that for now at least all the teams were operating a generally relaxed good-will policy until the Concord Agreement situation was properly resolved. "I think people are operating largely as though the governance of Concorde is in place," he said.
"I think at the moment people are resisting the desire to get terribly pedantic," he added. "Clearly there are some questions about how some rule changes have happened; is there correct governance?
"I think in the best interest in the sport, rather than arguing about the detail of a particular rule change, it's better that we all concentrate on converging upon a Concorde which is clear governance," he continued. "It gives a clear framework, it gives confidence to investors, it makes the teams know how they are going to operate."
The lack of a new Concord Agreement is thought to be one of the main obstacles to the floating of F1 on the stock exchange, but Whitmarsh agreed with Todt that the outlook for a new arrangement was looking much more optimistic.
"I think now it's clear that the FIA
and FOM are working hard together," he said. "I think there are signs that people are working quite hard now to get to a new Concorde."