The board of Formula 1 met today in Monaco, with some of the teams represented and a new chairman, Nestle’s Peter Brabeck-Lemathe, at the helm. He is the chairman of Nestle and sits on the boards of other leading European businesses.
Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo was here in Monaco and met with Bernie Ecclestone and Mercedes’ Ross Brawn at length this afternoon.
Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari are all promised seats on the new look board, however the teams will not be able to acquire shares until the proposed flotation on the Singapore exchange takes place.
There has been a lot of activity recently around the future ownership of F1 with 21% of the business already sold to three “cornerstone” investors and a further chunk worth up to $2 billion due to be floated on the stock exchange, possibly as soon as June.
However the problems surrounding the recent flotation of Facebook have give pause for reflection and Brabeck, 67, said after the meeting that there was no sense of urgency on the float, “It was the first time that the board had a report on the preparation, there was pre-valuation of the whole process. I think we made a step forwards but no decision has been taken.
“Within the board there is an IPO committee and the committee will come back to the full board when it feels that the next board meeting is necessary. We have not even fixed the next meeting. We left this thing open.”
CNN reported yesterday that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had said that the new Concorde Agreement had been signed, but if you listen carefully to what he said, he did not confirm the Concorde, but did say that everyone has agreed.
Most teams, with the exception of Mercedes, have contracts with F1 which will lead to signature of the Concorde Agreement. But as McLaren chairman Martin Whitmarsh told this site on Wednesday, no-one has signed the Concorde yet.
And it seems that FIA president Jean Todt is reluctant to put the FIA’s signature on it until a deal is worked out whereby the FIA can get some more revenue for the sport. The FIA sold its commecial rights for 100 years during Max Mosley’s tenure in a deal that is legally water tight, but now Todt wants a slice of the pie for the FIA to reflect the changing media landscape and business model of F1.
Meanwhile for the teams, cost-cutting is the number one priority at the moment with many teams struggling to balance the books, despite improved revenues from the commercial rights holders.
The cost of competing is still too high and there has been a lot of work behind the scenes with what remains of FOTA and the other teams, Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull and Toro Rosso to find a formula for cost management that works.
Many teams favour a budget cap, possibly administered by the FIA, but Red Bull and Ferrari are opposed and it’s a difficult one for McLaren and to a lesser extent Mercedes.
The deadline for the eight teams to agree some new structure is June 30th, as up to that point they can win by a majority decision and get something in place for 2013. If that deadline passes then they would need 100% unanimity to get something through later in the year. For many teams the situation is quite acute.
You can see the important part of the CNN Bernie Ecclestone interview here CNN F1 Interview with Bernie Ecclestone