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Future still clouded for small F1 teams

2014-11-11 08:22

TEAM CRISIS IN F1: Bernie Ecclestone warns that it's not F1 that's 'in a crisis' but rather a few financially struggling teams in the sport. Image: AP / Darron Cummings

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Since boycott threats at the 2014 US GP struggling teams Lotus, Force India and Sauber travelled to the Brazil GP apparently to close to a ""fighting fund" bail-out" bail-out that would secure their future.

Force India boss Vijay Mallya, for one, denied he threatened to sit out races: "Why would we (boycott)? I may as well have stayed in England and saved the expense."

And a meeting at Interlagos, ahead of the November 9 2014 Brazil GP, ended with no solution.


Mallya reported: "He (Bernie Ecclestone) just said 'I'll talk to Donald next week and get back to you'." He was referring to Donald Mackenzie, chairman of F1's majority owner CVC, who had been in talks in recent days with Lotus' boss Gerard Lopez.

Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, told the BBC that CVC was "only the shareholder" and that any decisions would have to be made by Formula One Management. So, with Caterham and Marussia out-of-business, the next endangered teams are restless.

Writing in the UK's Financial Mail on Sunday (Nov 2) F1 business journalist Christian Sylt said Force India's ability to continue "as a going concern" was now in doubt amid millions in losses.

Ecclestone told reporters he had little sympathy for teams such as Marussia and Caterham, with both succumbed to debt.


Ecclestone said: "People say F1 is in crisis. Absolute nonsense. We've had a couple of teams in crisis. People come and go. They (the teams) need to know how much is coming in and how much is going out."

So Saturday's meeting ended with no promises of a hand-out and Ecclestone advising teams to spend less rather than "hope somebody is going to subsidise you".

It seems plenty, however, was discussed during the meeting, including perhaps the idea of using the collapsed Marussia's R448-million in unclaimed prize money for finishing ninth in the championship and re-distributing it.

Even Niki Lauda,team chairman at dominant Mercedes, had a proposal: "In difficult economic times such as these where sponsors are hard to find we need to help the small teams - this is also in our interest because they also need to spend money on tyres and engines."


Ecclestone has said contracts forbid him from simply giving more to the small teams but Lauda proposed: "We should lend them a certain amount until they are in a position to give it back."

Ecclestone declined to guarantee that the three nervous privateers - Lotus, Force India and Sauber - would all still be on the grid in 2015.

"I wouldn't say that. I hope they are," he said.


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