Ecclestone: ‘Big problems ahead for’ FOTA

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Bernie Ecclestone has warned FOTA members that he will fight any breakaway series should they attempt such a move. The crux of his argument centered on a breach of contracts should the teams approach any existing contractually obligated partners of the FOM/FOA. Understandably Mr. Ecclestone does not want to see his money well dry up and a breakaway series would have a serious impact on the financial fortitude of the FIA F1 championship. His warning is understandable from a self preservation stance but then again, so is FOTA’s.

What I found interesting is the comment about Max. Yet again, Bernie has placed himself in between the two entities by suggesting that the teams could have avoided Max’s draconian rule of F1 back in 1998. A bit of a red herring as I am sure the agreement was not the most conducive to the teams. A bit like suggesting that Bernie had the opportunity to avoid divorce if he would have just stayed home more and stopped working all the time…that just wasn’t going to happen.

“If they do try to set up their own series – and I don’t think they will be able to – there are big problems ahead for them,” Ecclestone told the Daily Express.

“Apart from my contracts with teams, if somebody went to any of our contracted people, companies, television contractors, we would view it very seriously.

“That would be inducement to breach contracts and I don’t do that myself, so I won’t stand back and let it happen. Any action could run to hundreds of millions of pounds, who knows how much?”

“I’m not sure that the boards of teams such as Toyota and BMW, who are already looking to cut costs in F1, would sympathise and bankroll their teams going off to a series which would not be the FIA F1 championship,” he said. “It costs a lot of money to set up a series.

“Right now, we supply the venues at no cost to the teams, they roll up with all their sponsors’ names and money and race in front of a huge television audience which I supply through the contracts we win.

“That money flows back to the teams and they spend it. It would be different when they have to provide all the venues, hire their own race people, find their own television companies – and we have the best – and promote it.”

“As for the drivers, they want to win the FIA F1 world championship or some of them would be elsewhere getting more money to win a title that means less. I don’t think they will get a series going.

“The teams had a chance to sign the 1998 Concorde Agreement which would have protected them from Max’s technical changes, but they said no.”

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