22 November 2014
Smaller F1 teams expect action following crunch meeting
Lotus, Sauber and Force India say Bernie Ecclestone and F1's owners CVC “understand that they need to take action” to safeguard the future of the sport after a crunch meeting in Abu Dhabi
Lotus, Sauber and Force India say Bernie Ecclestone and F1's owners CVC “understand that they need to take action” to safeguard the future of the sport after a crunch meeting in Abu Dhabi.
Ecclestone and CVC chairman Donald Mackenzie called a meeting with the three teams to discuss concerns about the current distribution of revenues in the sport, with the trio calling for change since Caterham and Marussia entered administration. Lotus team principal Gerard Lopez – speaking alongside counterparts Monisha Kaltenborn and Vijay Mallya – said the meeting had seen progress made and an understanding from Ecclestone and Mackenzie that changes must be made.
“We had a meeting this morning with Bernie and Donald Mackenzie from CVC and it was a meeting that they asked for,” Lopez said. “Obviously it was meeting related to our view on how the sport is being managed from a financial perspective. The takeaway from the meeting is that they both understand that they need to take action. We are not going into detail in terms of what they are discussing, but they are going to go away and look at a number of things.
“From our perspective, we will repeat what we said this morning and I think this time it kind of hit home and they understand it – at least in the meeting they agreed to it. Number one, Formula One is turning into a money race but where money is not being won on the track or through sponsors, but given away in a way that is unfair to a number of teams.
“We didn't criticise the overall amount, which is now out in the public and is 900 million [dollars], and if you were to say with nine teams left, or even ten, that you divide the whole amount by the ten teams or nine teams there would not be a single team in Formula One that would be in trouble. Clearly the amount seems to be okay, but what is not okay is the distribution key and the fact that it is a subsidised money race, which is not the correct thing.
“Historically speaking, this thing became a bit bigger after Austin, but the reality is that there were specific proposals done in terms of cost reduction quite a while ago and they were completely refused by the big teams that are getting the money. It's a vicious circle because the ones that are refusing the cost reduction are the ones that are getting more money and the ones that are asking for the cost reduction are not getting. So part of the discussions went back to cost reduction, something that it is necessary for the economic benefit of the sport.
“For the sport itself, I guarantee you that the fans would not see the difference between a car that changes wings … I know one of the top teams will have 35 wings this year and we only have 19 races. As a fan, do you need to see 35 wings? It's a big question. We discussed the engines and the fact that costs have exploded around the new power units, which is something we never asked for and in fact we were pretty vocal against it.
“And so the fact is that we now need to face this issue, not just as commercial rights holders or Bernie or us, but now need to include the bigger teams to take up responsibility for what's going on right now and come to the table and participate in solving all this.
“In summary, and without going into details because it is not the moment to explain what is being discussed, but in essence both Donald and Bernie agree that there is an issue now, they both agree we are not beggars and we are reasonable and sensible, and they agree that this needs to be solved by the different parties in the sport and not just us or them.”
And Lopez said it felt like “the coin has dropped” with the sport's owners that something has to change to make F1 sustainable.
"Another reason it has got their attention is that when CVC took over the sport was generating 245 million [dollars] for the teams, it's now generating close to 900, but it's almost in a worse state than it has ever been. People always talk about what they take out, but with them putting 900 million back and issues arising like this one, obviously it gets their attention because it's 900 million dollars that's being badly spent.
"It's one of the first times - I wouldn't be arrogant to say it's the only time - where you really feel somehow that with some key people the coin has dropped. They realise close to a billion is being spent and it's become a money race, a subsidised money race.
"The fact some teams hide behind that everything is OK with the way it is is not an excuse to say it's OK. I feel there is enough momentum to get it to a point where we have to see some change, and if we don't - and we're not making threats - but for sure something's going to happen because it's entirely wrong. It's now wrong to a point where it's not tenable anymore."
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