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Ecclestone to hold talks with teams

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is expected to hold further talks with Force India, Sauber and Lotus over the weekend in Abu Dhabi.

On the track 2014 has seen a great season of racing.

Off the track, Formula One has done its level best to put itself in crisis in 2014.

During a time of dwindling worldwide viewing figures, petty squabbles over the sound of the new generation of engines has taken the shine off what has actually been a marvel for technical innovation.

The old petrol heads and traditionalists, want to revert back to the engine screaming days of V12 engines, rather than the new breed of V6 Turbo-Hybrid's ignoring the fact that it's a dying technology and doesn't offer anything that the engine manufactures of the sport want to be involved in.

This in-fighting has seen Formula One miss its change to showcase what these teams and manufacturers have managed to do.

In Brazil, we saw cars setting new lap records, despite a the loss of a third in fuel and a huge loss in aerodynamic grip, quite staggering performances.

But a bigger worry for Formula One is its apparent need to push the sport to the point of implosion.

Modern day Formula One has been run by supremo Bernie Ecclestone, he has run the sport by a tactic of divide and conquer. Whilst allowing the participants to run the sport, essentially handing over the asylum to the lunatics.

Formula One teams will never run the sport in the sports best interests, they will run the sport in their own interests.

They are competitors and whatever will give them a competitive or financial advantage in the short term, that is what they will push for.

This method of idiocy has already seen Marussia and Caterham all but collapse this season.

The likes of Sauber, Lotus and Force India are also all essentially on the brink, failing to break even financially in a sport which is awash with money [F1 earns an estimated £1.6 billion per year].

Recently the smaller teams have grouped together to make some demands, nothing extraordinary and nothing the casual Formula One fan would think was unfair.

They merely want a larger slice of the commercial rights, so that they can operate a competitive race team without being on the brink of financial crisis, securing the jobs of hundreds of employees.

After the United States Grand Prix it appeared that CVC Capital Partners, Formula One's main shareholder would make the move to create a £100million fighting fund to secure the futures of these smaller teams.

But just one week later, it appeared that this was no longer an option, forcing people to believe that Formula One merely wants to push out the smaller teams and keep the sport to the elite.

A conspiracy theory you may think, but one that Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was happy to subscribe to in Brazil.

'The agenda seems to be that people are looking at four or five names to remain [Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, McLaren, Mercedes and Williams], when ideas are offered to us of a year-old chassis or engines which maybe are a different spec, a different series - there must be an agenda. said Kaltenborn to the BBC.

'We don't know whose agenda it is, but the fact is it cannot go on like this. It's not the way we want to work or can work.

'The more these ideas come up, the more we three [Sauber, Lotus and Force India] get the feeling that maybe some people don't want us to be around and maybe the sport is supposed to be changed in a very different way.'

The different way appears to be in the short term three-car teams before moving into a new era of customer teams in 2016.

Over the same weekend Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley told Sky Sports: “We were given a clear direction there is no money on the table. There is a very clear programme coming in. The goal is to move to customer-car teams and the three cars will be the interim. That would allow them to keep the numbers while the customer cars are brought in.”

The 2015 Formula One World Championship will see three-car teams if the grid loses two more teams.

The demand for three-car teams is activated automatically in the regulations if the field drops below 16 cars.

With the demise of Marussia and Caterham, the field is already down to 18 cars, putting F1 on the brink of three car teams for next season.

Under normal circumstances in other sports some form of rescue package would surely be on the agenda.

The sport should be desperate to keep around 20 cars on the grid and maintain the level of competition that the spectators wish to see and when the financial pot is big enough to support 10 plus teams, it should be a no-brainer.

But not in the world of Formula One.

'They've a contract they signed [Commercial contract which runs until 2020]. They know exactly what they signed and how much money they would be getting,” Ecclestone told Sky Sports.

'What we don't have any control over is how much they want to spend. That's the problem.

'Normally in business you have a look and see how much money you are going to get, and then you decide to spend less than that otherwise you are going to be in trouble.

'It doesn't seem like they've followed a normal business route.'

Ecclestone of course is correct, but spiralling costs have been out of the hands of the smaller teams.

Force India have to buy their power-train from Mercedes.
Lotus have to buy their power-train from Renault [next season Mercedes].
Sauber have to buy their power-train from Ferrari.

These costs, due to the change in engine regulations have sky rocketed.

The engine change might have been needed by the sport, but the sport needs to amend itself in the face of a changing market.

Red Bull Racing seem to be offering just as much sympathy as Ecclestone by claiming that it is not their responsibility to look after the smaller teams.

There has to be a shift somewhere though otherwise Formula One as we know it will be lost.

If we head into a sport of five main teams and five satellite teams, that's an awful lot of uncertainly over how the paying public will respond.

The safest strategy would be to renegotiate the revenue distribution amongst the teams. That would maintain the size of the field we have now and maintain the status-quo of the big teams and the smaller teams in the sport.

But is that the priority for the bigger teams? Do they want to force the smaller teams out so to increase their hold on the sport?

The motivation is not for the longevity of the sport, but for themselves. Surely someone at some point has to look out for the sport?

Will common sense ever take over?

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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday November 19 2014

Time: 12:00PM


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