Ecclestone: We can do without Monaco!

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So where to next? Where should F1 go? Which circuit would favor a race and what market would be most eager for a race as to support it and promote it? Who cares! There’s only one question that guides the F1 machine’s decision to race here or there or anywhere…who’ll pay the most?

Formula One Management’s (FOM) F1 boss and venerable deal-maker Bernie Ecclestone has warned the principality of Monaco that their head could be on the chopping block along with any other venue who isn’t paying enough to host a race. The term “enough” is certainly relative to Ecclestone’s expectations but I wonder if Monaco’s comment in 2009 about there being no F1 without Ferrari or the FIA/FOTA war that saw a leaked calendar for the FOTA breakaway series that included Monaco has anything to do with Ecclestone’s rhetoric?

It seems that Ecclestone’s prime mover is actually cash and it takes cash to run this series. How much cash it takes is another questions but if AsiaPac, Russia and other countries–even third-world–are willing to pay exorbitant prices for an F1 race, I fear Europe may be hanging in the balance. There is no nostalgia for FOM or Ecclestone when money stands in the way. A scorched earth policy is certainly an option when the casualties are measured in Dollars, Cents, Pounds, Schillings and Pence. Ecclestone said:

“The Europeans are going to have to pay more money or we will have to go somewhere else,” says Ecclestone. “Russia has also got to go on the calendar. We will do it the year after next in Sochi.” Even the historic Monaco Grand Prix could face the chop, as Ecclestone says, “We can do without Monaco.” The principality has been on F1’s calendar since 1955 and is believed to be the only race which pays no fee. Ecclestone says he doesn’t expect he will ditch Monaco but grumpily admits, “They don’t pay enough.”

Now I understand that the source is the Independent and that Christian Sylt can get very ‘creative’ with his business acumen when applying it to F1. I’ve seen some things that defy P&L logic and balance sheet common sense leak from the fountain pen of Mr. Sylt in the past but let’s pretend that the quotes are actual quotes and I think we can assume the Independent would stand behind them. Context is key but I think the quote stands on its own. Unlike the bizarre Hitler quote Ecclestone made in 2009.

But there is good news, according to Sylt, Bernie is still seeing his new gal pal so that’s good news isn’t it? The other good news? Hey, the CVC has paid off over $1.0bn of their F1 debt. Things are looking up for F1…I mean Ecclestone and CVC.

As for the Russians? I am wondering how the grand prix will be recieved as they are having trouble supporting their own driver at Renault let alone support the series. Those concerns are assuaged however when this weekend McLaren’s Jenson Button thrilled the crowds at the Kremlin:

“It would be a good idea (to have a Grand Prix here) as I definitely want to come back.”

That’s a ringing endorsement isn’t it? There is also the firm backing from Russian officials too:

“We’re aiming to have the race here as early as 2012,” general director of Bavaria Moscow City Racing Derk Sauer told Reuters. “The race contract is not done yet but we’re getting very close.” [snip] “It would be just like Monaco, a race around the city centre with the Kremlin in the background,” Sauer said.

Wait…what’s that about Monaco? Did someone mention Monaco because I am pretty sure I heard that and the last time I checked, Monaco is in Monaco, not Russia. So now we have another street circuit race like Valencia and Singapore that Ecclestone would like to cram in the schedule and the only logical choice is to do away with Monaco right?

Don’t get too worried, Russia is actually being played by Ecclestone to get more money from Monaco. We’ve seen it a thousand times. This time it may not work however and if I am Monaco, I would expect Ferrari and other members of FOTA to back the principality as they were willing, publicly, to back FOTA with their breakaway series. Allies have obligations folks and FOTA may be forced to side should Ecclestone demand an insane amount of cash from Monaco.

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