25 June 2013
Marussia still seeking level playing field
Marussia CEO Graeme Lowdon seeks answers to why his team appears to be discriminated against when it comes to receiving its due reward from F1.
The Marussia F1 team has revealed just how concerned it is that recent changes in direction regarding prize money could leave it perilously close to the sport's exit.
Speaking to British journalists, chief executive Graeme Lowdon expressed his frustration at moves that stripped eleventh place in the constructors' championship from F1's prize fund, and the fact that he has yet to see the alleged offer to sign up to the latest edition of the Concorde Agreement. Without the latter, Marussia would be ineligible to claim any part of the prize fund even if it beat Caterham to tenth place overall…
"All we ask for is a level playing field," Lowdon claimed, "All teams should be treated equally. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be the case. We just don't have a deal with the commercial rights-holder. Why should that be? This sport is full of strange mysteries and that is one of them.
"We have been involved in the negotiations for the next Concorde Agreement but, in a scenario where there is no Concorde for two or three years – and there is nothing in the rules that there has to be one – then there is nothing in place for us to benefit.”
Losing tenth spot in the 2012 constructors' table reportedly cost Marussia $35m and now, despite some 63 per cent of the sport's operating profit being ploughed back into the prize fund shared by the top ten teams, Bernie Ecclestone recently announced that he would be ending the bonus payment of $10m made to the smaller teams which entered F1 in 2010.
"The problem in motor racing is that under the current regulations there is a performance benefit in the more money you spend,” Lowdon continued, "You can buy success to some extent. Most teams, if they have money, will spend it and, if you spend everything you have and then find out you are not getting it, you have a problem.
"People can see we are doing a good job on extremely limited resources. We have a suitably obscene amount of money to go motor racing with but nowhere near the levels of the other teams.”
With Ecclestone reporting to majority shareholder CVC, Lowdon believes that it is the investment giant that needs to realise that the current policy could be on the verge of driving his emerging squad out of the sport.
“[CVC]'s board has to make a decision on how it treats companies it deals with,” he insisted, “We are one of those companies, and it chooses to treat us differently. It doesn't make any sense to me, but then I don't work for CVC. Maybe they have a master plan.
"This is the F1 world championship, not the world championship of private equity excellence. My view is that the championship is bigger than the participants and that is the reason why CVC have a successful investment. [The championship] should be treated with a high degree of respect, including the participants."
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