The smaller teams on the F1 grid fear that they are being squeezed out of the sport by the top six teams, which between them now hold a dominant position on the new FIA Strategy Group that met for the first time on Monday.

The new body replaces the old sporting and technical working groups and has the power to change F1's sporting regulations. However, only six teams are represented on the new panel with the remaining 12 seats split evenly between the FIA and commercial rights holder FOM, leaving those teams left out fearing the worst.

The top five teams - Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus and Mclaren - have seats in the strategy group, while Williams have also been given a place for historical reasons. That leaves Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Caterham and Marussia with effectively no direct voice in any future changes.

Although the F1 Commission at which all teams are represented will ultimately sign off the Strategy Group's proposals, the smaller teams will not be able to block or propose anything at the crucial stages.

"All teams basically pay the same amount to go racing, yet some teams have no say in how the sport is run," Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told the Daily Telegraph at the weekend. "The only differentials are in drivers' salaries and hospitality."

Fernley suggested that the new set-up might not only be unethical, it could even be illegal.

"It could certainly be deemed abuse of a dominant position," he said. "There is genuine concern among some of the teams on the Strategy Group [about the legality], particularly the ones who are public companies. This is not ethical governance."

The teams thought to be looking into the legal side of things are McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, with Mclaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh publicly voicing concerns that while everyone was putting up with the situation for the time being, any future challenge in the course could "be very untidy indeed."

Asked if the set-up of the new strategy group was legally questionable, former FIA president Max Mosley told Auto Motor Und Sport: "Perhaps ... To my knowledge, Mercedes has sought legal advice and the answer was that it is contestable."

The reason why the Strategy Group is seen as so crucial was reflected by the agenda for the inaugural meeting of the group at Biggin Hill on Monday. As well as tyre testing, cost reductions and rules tweaks, among the items on the agenda was the vexed question of 'listed parts' which determines the car components that teams can share with or and sell to other teams on the grid.

The bigger teams are keen to broaden this category out as a potential revenue source, and the smaller teams fear this will lead to the full-blown customer cars already advocated by Bernie Ecclestone as a way of reducing costs of competing but which could undermine the business model of teams such as Sauber, Williams and Force India for taking part in F1.

Fernley complained that the teams making the decisions were largely insulated from the financial repercussions by their large money flows, while those without a say would be the ones struggling to pay the bills.

"You cannot bring customer cars in unless you force teams out of business," insisted Fernley. "And we are going in the right direction to do that ... The pie gets split only five ways and they get revenue from customer teams, too.

"If you have big teams acting as constructors, unified and pledged to offer their services as two-car constructor teams, you have the grid," he explained. "I can tell you now that customer teams will not work. It is completely changing the DNA of F1."

Fernley pointed out that the new Concorde Agreement also gives the bigger teams a greater share of the sport's revenues while increasing costs for everyone through big hikes in entry fees and driver superlicences as well as the development of new-specification cars and engines for 2014. He suggested that the cumulative impact of the changes on the sport was raising costs by nearly 20 million pounds in the next 12 months.

"To have an arbitrary system of governance based on two bilateral agreements is not good enough," Fernley said. "We would hope that the FIA will look at this."



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