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F1 minnows to battle Bernie and Co?

2015-07-13 08:28

LEADER OF A CARTEL? Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone is under fire from F1's minnow teams which have accused him of unfairly distributing the sport's revenue. Image: AP

ALAN BALDWIN

  • Unfair revenue distribution
  • 'F1 controlled by cartel'
  • Teams yet to press grievances

LONDON, England – F1’s struggling smaller teams have been told to take action if they want the European Commission to investigate concerns about the sport's governance and distribution of revenue.

Anneliese Dodds, a member of the European parliament from Britain's opposition Labour Party, visited the Force India factory at Silverstone, England, on Friday (July 10) and said it was up to the teams to press their grievances.

NO FORMAL COMPLAINT

She said: "The commissioner in charge has made it clear to me that she can't do anything until the teams themselves submit a formal complaint. So, if that's what the teams feel is right, then that’s what they should do.”

Dodds has written several times to Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner responsible for competition, to express concern that developments in F1 could have breached European law.

Her statement continued: "Ever since the collapse of Marussia and Caterham in 2014 I’ve had real concerns about the way things are going with F1.

"This doesn't just mean two fewer teams taking part in races; it means hundreds of highly skilled people in my constituency losing their jobs and their livelihood."

While Caterham no longer exists, tail-ender team Marussia is still competing after a late rescue. Others are also struggling: a winding-up petition against Lotus was postponed in early July 2015 and Force India's pre-season testing was affected by cash-flow problems.

'F1 CONTROLLED BY CARTEL'

Force India, Sauber and Lotus wrote to F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone in November 2014 as part of a push for a re-distribution of the sport's revenue. The letter, signed by Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley, spoke of "a questionable cartel controlling the governance of F1 and, apparently, the distribution of... funds".

Top teams Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Red Bull receive special payments and sit with the commercial-rights holder and governing International Automobile Federation on the sport's core decision-making 'strategy group' - which in 2015 included Force India.

Ecclestone has dismissed any talk of a cartel and the teams have, so far, refrained from taking their complaints to Brussels.

Ecclestone told London’s Financial Times recently: "We will wait for the complaint. They all signed contracts. I hope the complaint goes ahead and the competition authorities have enough patience and time to deal with it."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.


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