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Concorde Agreement close, but not today
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Concorde Agreement close, but not today
Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jul 2009   |  10:25 am GMT  |  19 comments

Many people are expecting white smoke today with the signature of the new Concorde Agreement, which will being stability to Formula 1 after months of wrangling.

But it will not be today. What is scheduled for today is a meeting of the financial directors of the FOTA teams plus those of Williams, Force India and the three new teams.

This meeting in Geneva is set to finalise financial details of the cost reduction mechanism. As for the Concorde Agreement, the various parties are edging closer to signature.

Both team representatives and FIA representatives say that there are no negotiating points still outstanding, no potential deal breakers, but there are still detailed wordings to be finalised.

From the teams side, they would like to think that the new Concorde will be signed by the end of this week. However procedurally the FIA has to run the final version through the World Council for approval and although they will not meet, it will take a few days once the final draft is written to get it approved. A target of early next week seems realistic.

So it looks like there is no stumbling block to getting it sorted before the next Grand Prix in Budapest next week. Everyone hopefully can raise a glass of champagne in the Budapest paddock and celebrate a sport that looked into the abyss but then brought itself back to sanity.

Once the deal is signed it will be interesting to see which major figures stay on in the sport. Today, FIA president Max Mosley has confirmed he will not stand for re-election when his term ends in October. Mosley had hinted last month that he may stand again, even though, according to the teams, the peace deal voted through last month by the FIA World Council, was based on Mosley’s pledge to not seek re-election in October. However, in a letter to FIA members this morning, Mosley reconfirmed his decision to step down and also endorsed former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt as his successor.

Donald MacKenzie, one of the main players in CVC, the finance company behind Bernie Ecclestone told the Times on Sunday that as far as he is concerned Ecclestone would remain the chief executive of F1, despite the furore over his Hitler comments. CVC and the teams have been working closely together in recent weeks and there is a mood in some team quarters for a change of faces at the top, for the sport to turn a new page. Ecclestone says he has no intention of being moved aside however.

However advertising guru Sir Martin Sorrell, another prime mover behind CVC’s involvement in the commercial side of the sport, has cast some doubt on Ecclestone’s position. He told the Mail today that Ecclestone’s comments were ‘disgusting’. “I am appalled by what he said about Hitler,” said Sorrell. “His comments were disgusting. He issued a full apology after taking advice. Any other CEO in any other business would be gone.”

Paddock rumour continues to question the long term involvement in the sport of Toyota. Rival team principals say that Toyota management continue to look them in the eye and give assurances that they will stay to 2012 at least, but doubts still remain.  Many were puzzled by Toyota’s decision not to host the Japanese GP at Fuji any longer, despite the net cost to them being probably less than $10m.

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19 Comments
  1. BillG says:

    Good stuff, as usual James. Thanks.

    But what about the prospect of Todt as President? Would he bring the peace and calm that we need back to the paddock? I doubt it somehow, and just when we were finally getting away from the FIA/Ferrari bias stories, wouldn’t that bring them all roaring back?

    Can you let us know what the format and the timetable for the election will be – and who can we write to to influence votes!!

  2. Harveyeight says:

    So what you are saying, in effect, is that there is no news of any importance today.

    It is worrying about Toyota of course.

    “Both team representatives and FIA representatives say that there are no negotiating points still outstanding, no potential deal breakers . . .” Is it the lunch-time snacks that keep them going to these meetings? Come on, sign the damn thing and let us all breathe a sigh of relief until the elections at least.

  3. Matthew says:

    James, do you have any clue as to which team might be the lucky recipients of a crate of shiny new Mercedes engines next year? RBR? Williams (especially if Toyota do pull out, taking the under-performing Nakajima with them)?

    1. James Allen says:

      Brawn, Force India and maybe Red Bull

  4. Howard Hughes says:

    Sorrell:

    “I am appalled by what he said about Hitler,” said Sorrell. “His comments were disgusting. He issued a full apology after taking advice. Any other CEO in any other business would be gone.”

    So let’s get this straight – a brilliant entrepreneur devotes decades to (as well as making himself fabulously wealthy) making lots of team owners and drivers very rich, and turning his sport from a semi-amateur elite pastime to arguably the most successful sport on Earth.

    He then utters an open-to-misinterpretation offhand statement about the earlier possible economic virtues of a dictator who died more than half a century ago. And for this he’s expected to walk away from the entire basis of his life, abandon his life’s work and never engage his talents in this arena again?!

    Sorry, but who’s the real fascist here – the guy who makes a single ill-thought-out statement, or the guy baying for another man’s career execution based on the thoughts and words he’s expressed?

    I thought the Third Reich were the masters of censorship and thought police – seems their lessons have been learnt in the oddest of quarters.

  5. rpaco says:

    [quote] Many were puzzled by Toyota’s decision not to host the Japanese GP at Fuji any longer, despite the net cost to them being probably less than $10m.[/quote]

    Just goes to show how much Bernie is soaking them for.

    Way back in my time with Philips and a well known Japanese Hifi company it was always far cheaper and better value for money to sponsor the event than any competitor. It had many advantages not least being able to promote your own product on site via multi-media. A competition was always extra good value too, with product as a prize, and a review of same in a prominent auto mag running the competition. (It is far cheaper to give away “product to the value” than to give money) We did it often (the name Mike Scarlett (random jottings) rings a bell here) Yes I really an that old!

    Anyway because of the above, for Toyota to say basically that they can’t afford it when it is a huge home free advertising opportunity, really shows that Bernie must be the factor making it uneconomic.

    What with the German GP also being axed because of Bernie’s grasping demands its all
    coming to an end in Europe. (oooeeeeeoooo)

    So we are looking for the new concord agreement to be more than just the share-out of loot; and ego apportionment, it must also save the classic European GPs and make them affordable for the fans an profitable for the circuits.

    I would say that we are in trouble in Europe generally because Bernie has bled the circuits to death.

  6. Alex says:

    James I’ve been wondering too about Toyota’s commitment. I’ve heard also about Renault but that’s been a rumor for years. However Alonso’s departure could really give them a reason to question their commitment. Any other thoughts on these manufacture’s future?

    Love the website by the way. It’s nice to read one composed with thought as apposed to the others which are either conjecture based on nothing or just quotes copy and pasted.

    Best!

    1. James Allen says:

      Cheers Alex, Renault have some issues for 2010. They need a new title sponsor and may need a lead driver and a number two. Not hearing much doubt about their commitment at this point, however.

  7. Gilraen says:

    Todt????? That is the worst possible replacement. Vatanen does not stand a chance. He might be perfect and for the very reason will never be selected. Todt is already on his election tour and not just since yesterday. If only we fans had any influence…

    @Howard Hughes: you’re entitled to your opinion, but Bernie did not utter just “a single ill-thought-out statement” and “utters an open-to-misinterpretation offhand statement about the earlier possible economic virtues of a dictator who died more than half a century ago”. In fact he uttered several and not only concerning Hitler. He also mentioned his appreciation for the way other dictators like Saddam and Mosley “get things done”.
    So your abbreviation is a bit onesided to say the least.

  8. jw1980 says:

    If Toyota quit it suggests that Max’s belief that new teams are needed is correct. It does not seem right that John Howett is vice president (chairman or whatever it is) of FOTA if they are going to pull out at the end of the season. What are they negotiating for? What will happen with the Toyota team? It would seem highly unlikely that a Brawn situation could happen.
    Finally it’s a shame that Toyota did not make its intentions clearer if indeed they are going to pull out as there were several creditable teams that wanted to enter F1 that have not made it.
    James do you think that another team can replace Toyota or is it too late? Which team is it likely to be as well?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well if they are going to pull out we will know soon, because they would not sign the Concorde Agreement, which is due for signature before the next GP. As I say, it’s rumour and looking at the team’s statements and body language they don’t look like they are stopping. The same could not be said for Honda. A friend of mine who did business with Honda said in October that he reckoned they would pull out after he had a meeting with them in Japan. Their attitude and body language told him as much.

  9. Tim Parry says:

    As other posters have noted, Todt would bring a lot of baggage to the FIA presidency. He knows how and is not shy of playing hardball. After all the finger pointing of the past months, hardball would not a very good management policy.
    And personally, I could never support any man who stole away Michelle Yeoh.

  10. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Monetary considerations being what they are in F1, it is now time to question Bernie’s viability. Whether one believes his critics are overdoing it (I don’t; if anything, he’s gotten less criticism than others for arguably less offensive statements), he is now a commercial liability. Sir Martin Sorrell’s comments, given his position, should not be taken lightly.

    I think Bernie will be gone by next season. He’s brought in money, but he’s also: caused the races in North America to disappear; ditto France, sometimes Belgium, France, possibly (probably?) the UK and Germany etc. That’s too much money, in too many markets the manufacturers are interested in, for F1 to abandon. Bernie’s comments, and the other recent upheavals, provide the opportunity for elements within CVC to move Bernie aside and get back to those markets.

  11. Harveyeight says:

    The Concorde Agreement is the key, isn’t it.

    It would appear that some of the discussions were held without Mosley, as indeed they should be given the fact he is now on the beach.

    If the wording is precise enough it could limit the authority of the president. Mosley’s power came from his ability to change, alter and ignore the pevious CA at will. The continual changes to the engine specs, for instance, cost the teams a tremendous amount of time, effort and, of course, money.

    I think it significant that Mosley has sent this letter of resignation before the CA has been signed.

    As regards Fuji: is this some sort of stand against Eccs? The new found friendship, apparently, between the financial side and the teams must come at a cost, surely. CVC must have been worried about their investment and the threat of a breakaway must have made them nervous.

    Talking of body language, I think Bernie is showing signs of pressure. Perhaps his ‘Hitler was misunderstood and didn’t know there was a war on’ speech is a sign of that pressure.

    If the teams are cutting their costs then might a reasonable expectation be that CVC lower their demands as well? I feel sure that the European manufacturers, which definition more or less includes Toyota, want to race in Germany, Britain and France as well as, of course, the USA and probably Canada. And if Bernie’s fees are the stumbling block then I would expect that FOTA might well push for reduced costs for the circuits.

    Mind you, if Silverstone generates a full house each GP at current prices, I can’t see them passing the savings onto the fans.

    Had it not been for Max’s ‘I’m going, I’m staying, I’m going, I got upset when fools and certified half-wits did not treat with reverence’ pantomime he probably could have had more input on the CA than reports suggest he had. As it is whoever sits on his hallowed throne my well only be master of all he sits on. The election could be an irrelevance. The CA could well have the same function as the ACO has in sports car racing. It acknowledge’s the right of the FiA to exist although somewhere else.

    It would appear that everything has been decided and quill will touch parchment as soon as Mosley resigns, subject to a suitable period of distancing.

    And good riddance.

    One feels for the WRC, the WTC, the WSC and all the other forumlae that havn’t been able to dump the FiA. It is not the norm for ‘safe hands’ and ‘Todt’ to appear in the same sentence.

  12. Steven Selasky says:

    Maybe this does not belong here. But has there been any progress having races back in North America?

    Can someone explain to me why/how F1 can be absence from North America which is a major market for various manufacturers.

    Oh, please don’t tell me there is no track/venue that can provide the support F1 needs.

    Regards,

  13. I am not sure about the category for these thoughts however…..
    I was listening to an interview with an equestrian rider and he was asked “Is it the horse or the rider that makes success?”
    We could ask the same question about F1. We have all seen successful drivers put into a car that is uncompetitive and therefore the combination has not proved to be successful. Nowadays we have too many rules and strictures which put too many limitations on the sport. I am astonished that only one tyre manuafcturer is allowed to provide tyres and they make the decision as to what tyres will be providied. Similarly the Safey Car can alter the whole outcome of a race – witness the Singapore GP. This is a subject that needs to be addressed. There has to be another method of preventing this distortion. There are many more examples such as circuit design and timing of races to meet TV schedules. Let us get back to basics and enjoy the sport as it should be seen. ie. a level field for ALL competitors NOT subjected to outside influences in the search for commercial gain.

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