Dr. Mario Theissen has told Autosport that the teams will discuss the F1 calendar with Bernie Ecclestone at their next meeting.
The major markets have long since disappeared from the F1 calendar and more are threatened in the future. The US and Canada have already faced the chopping block with Great Britain and Germany nearing the money sharpened axe blade of the commercial rights holders.
As Theissen put it:
“That is something we will certainly discuss with Bernie,” Theissen told Autosport. “We have to make sure that we are in the important markets.”
“Obviously we have to discuss this situation, and Bernie understands it,” said Theissen. “It is always a matter of finding what the right balance is between what we can earn, what Bernie can earn, and what is important for the market.”
When asked if a new Concorde Agreement would allow a specific veto on the calendar, Theissen said: “There is nothing explicit, but I would expect a much closer cooperation between the commercial rights holder and the teams if it comes to such decisions in the future.”
BMW are very keen to get back to their biggest markets and that includes North America. The recent unrest concerning the future of the German Grand Prix is equally disturbing as it represents the home race for BMW, Mercedes and Toyota (the F1 operation is based in Cologne).
The British Grand Prix is not faring well either. Donington Park, the recently announced new home of the British GP, is suffering from a lack of funds in which to complete the construction needed to host an F1 event. Ecclestone, representing the commercial rights holder CVC, said this week that itâ€™s fine because Silverstone and Donington can just alternate years. Ecclestoneâ€™s way of eating crow after flipping monkey dung on Silverstone for a decade in an effort to extort more money from them to host the race.
There are two very key issues that have not been discussed within these new Concorde Agreement meetings. At least they have not been discussed publicly. The amount of money Ecclestone/CVC will get from the revenue generated from the F1 series and the tracks that will be hosting the races.
Thiessenâ€™s comments are the first I can recall that directly addressed the latter and it will be interesting to see how they handle the revenue issue now. With the world financial crunch, track sanctioning fees cannot be sustained and it will remain to be seen if the CVC can afford to take a smaller cut of the pie.
My recommendation? Put Canada, US, Germany, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Monaco, Brazil, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Spain, France, South Africa, Holland, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain on the schedule.