Force India, Sauber file EU complaint against F1 structure

Formula 1 has had many moments in it’s history that were defining or challenging and perhaps 2015 is another one of those key moments. While the season itself is a straightforward domination by Mercedes, the series is struggling with several issues all culminating at the same time.

Red Bull and Toro Rosso with, potentially, no engine supply for 2016 as Mercedes has flatly declined the opportunity and Ferrari are offering year-old models. HRT out completely while Caterham and Manor were insolvent and only Manor escaping bankruptcy. Lotus F1 in serious financial difficulty and facing administration if not acquired by Renault who have offered a letter of intent only. New engine regulations that have more than doubled the cost of operating in F1 in order to have hybrid technology and this is coupled with a regulatory freeze that prevents teams from developing their systems in order to make the sport more competitive.

The list could go on but today, Force India and Sauber have filed an official complaint to the European Union’s competition commission over unfair governance and structure of the sport.

This is a big political move and it’s been threatened in the past with no action taken but this time it could be a risky move on the part of the small teams to expose Formula 1’s prize money distribution. At issue is the additional payments reserved for a few of the top teams:

“These unfair side payments put the independent teams at a perpetual sporting and economic disadvantage and directly harm the sport.

“By locking in a permanent advantage for a select few teams, the sport has been gravely undermined.

“The beneficiaries have vastly more to spend on technology, development, research and equipment, creating an ever-wider performance gap and, effectively, pre-determining the outcome of the world championships.

“These unlawful practices hurt the sport, its participants and the many thousands of people in and around Formula 1, and the many millions of European fans.”

The teams are growing more and more reliant on the F1 prize money for their existence and sponsor dollars are not what they once were. In fact, after the Japanese Grand Prix’s odd world feed coverage showing very little Mercedes, Ferrari and other car liveries and garage hoardings, it’s a wonder that sponsors are even interested in investing in teams.

One could imagine that Formula 1 will not be too excited about this official complaint but they are busy trying to address all the other issues of F1 and the struggle for control never ceases. There is also the issue of the teams all having signed the contracts and specifically knowing what they were getting and I think that’s a tough counter argument. Regardless of signing the agreements, the EU would have to find the structure legally errant.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT via Times

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Paul KieferJr

There’s that barrier to trade I wrote about earlier. Now EU is going to have to do something or it may well lose its credibility (if it had one).

otto

I’m to the point that blowing up the entire sport may be in order. How much worse could it be if F1 was forced to start over from scratch?

Paul KieferJr

That’s if we can trust anyone to take it over and run it the way it should be run.

The Captain

The problem I have with Bernies “you knew what you where getting into” argument is well, not really. Sure the teams would know what their own contracts where that they signed, but they didn’t know what anyone else where. If a team is entering a sporting contract and are told that other teams have similar contracts, you can plan for that. But then only to find out after you enter the sport that no, a few other teams are getting huge amounts of money over you, I’d be pissed too. I mean did Force India know that Bernie would throw… Read more »