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F1 Rule making process set to change
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Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Oct 2012   |  7:27 pm GMT  |  34 comments

One of the outcomes of Monday’s meeting in Paris between the FIA, Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 teams was that the structure by which the rules are made is set to change, with a new structure called the “F1 Strategy Group” set to play a pivotal role.

The new group, a separate entity from the F1 Commission, will comprise three bodies, each holding six seats; the commercial rights holder, the FIA and the teams.

Of these teams five will be permanent members and one will rotate. The five permanent members are Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes and Williams. The rotating seat will be occupied by the highest placed team in the previous year’s championship, so next year it would be Lotus, for example.

This F1 Strategy Group will decide on all future technical and sporting regulations. It will take advice from qualified engineers on technical matters, but will make the ultimate decisions, replacing the Technical and Sporting Working Groups.

Although Mercedes boss Ross Brawn said today that the Concorde Agreement is ready to sign, there is some disquiet among the teams who are disenfranchised by this new Strategy group, who have no say over the future rules in their sport.

There is concern, for example, that long term the group could decide to bring in customer cars, threatening the business model of the middle and lower ranking teams.

Sources suggest that Ferrari has given up its historic right of veto over rule changes, but does have the casting vote in the new F1 Strategy Group.

This could prove important if the Group were divided over an issue where there was disagreement between the FIA and the commercial rights holder, for example.

The discussions were aimed at moving forward to the signature of a new Concorde Agreement, starting in January,

“From the teams’ perspective there is nothing holding it up,” Brawn said on Thursday in India. “In the end there was general consensus on what we are doing. It was a fairly constructive meeting.

“It is between the commercial rights holder and the FIA – and that is where they have to sort out their detail and iron out any difficulties.”

Meanwhile the FIA is understood to be in line to receive a larger annual share of the revenues of the sport from the commercial rights holder and also to receive a higher entry fee from teams. Although figures of €500,000 basic entry plus €7,000 per point were mooted, it seems that the figure in dollars is closer to the final outcome.

*Bernie Ecclestone has said tonight that he will contest in court a claim from Bayern LB for £320 million for alleged loss of earnings related to the 2006 sale of F1 to CVC.

The sale has already led to Bayern LB’s chief risk officer Gerhard Gribkowsky being jailed for eight years for tax evasion, bribery and a breach of fiduciary duty, relating to a payment he received from Ecclestone, which the F1 boss says was a blackmail payment not a bribe.

“They have asked our lawyers in Germany if they could have $400m back. I didn’t respond. There’s no point is there? They will sue. If they win, they get paid. If they lose, it will cost them. That’s all,” said Ecclestone in the paddock in India.

“A massive percentage of these actions that take place, people settle. They don’t want the trouble. The very reason I gave Gribkowsky money was to stop the problem and aggravation which would have gone on for years.”

Following Gribkowsky’s conviction, prosecutors in Germany are still weighing up whether or not to pursue Ecclestone.

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34 Comments
  1. Chromatic says:

    James have you seen, or expect to see, either Bernie or Mallya around the India race precincts this weekend?

    1. Chromatic says:

      I mean for the rest of the weekend ….

  2. Gunner says:

    What goes around comes around.

    I have a feeling that Bernie’s ever-widening web of deception, suspicion and treachery will one day ensnare him. He has a very canny way of placing his own interests at the heart of a deal but also keeping his own personal level of risk to a minimum, preferring others to act as the scapegoat.

    He’s good as what he does, but I do fear for F1s future if (or when) Bernie ends up in the slammer.

    1. Wayne says:

      “He has a very canny way of placing his own interests at the heart of a deal”.

      You know, I’m not so sure. I don’t know anything of course but I’m not convinced that the prevailing opinion of BE as a greedy, self interested, emotionless power monger is truly accurate.

      One example would be his handling of the British GP. While we were all decrying him for threatening to remove the British GP from the Calendar, I reckon he was just handing out tough love. In the end the BRDC got the kick in the pants it needed, Silverstone got one of the longest and cheapest deals in all of F1 and fans got the beginnings of an upgrade in trackside conditions. Something tells me this was BE’s aim all along – I don’t believe he ever wanted to loose the British GP and it now has an agreement that will outlive BE’s time in F1.

      As an ex-used car salesman, if I had to bet I would get that BE get’s his kicks from the negotiating table, from the thrill of the chase rather than from counting his coin.

      One of BE’s great strengths, in my opinion, is that he does what he BELIEVES is good for the future of F1 at every turn (whether right or wrong) and he stands by it.

      I reckon F1 will miss BE when he goes and is replaced by some slime ball in an immaculate suit. In the same way as all the characters at Williams who care about F1 are gradually being replaced by suits.

      Time will tell.

      1. iceman says:

        It was very tough love for Donington park, whose leaseholder went bust leaving the circuit looking like a muddy hole in the ground.

      2. He do says:

        Perhaps James could write Bernie’s autobiography – the title could be “The (far) edge of ethics”.

  3. Tim says:

    “They have asked our lawyers in Germany if they could have $400m back. I didn’t respond. There’s no point is there? They will sue. If they win, they get paid. If they lose, it will cost them. That’s all,” said Ecclestone in the paddock in India.

    However, from today’s (25 Oct 2012) online DT edition is the following:

    ‘The German bank chose to pursue Mr Ecclestone for financial damages after gaining access to prosecution files from Mr Gribkowsky’s trial. “This is just step one,” said one insider.’

    Tim

  4. Rob Newman says:

    So, it is ‘still’ not going to be a level playing field? It is good if Ferrari has really given up right of veto and I really hope it is true. No team should have speacial status in the sport. It is damaging.

    Bernie is good at divide and rule and he will triumph at the end … as always.

    1. Elie says:

      Yeah but they have the casting vote which is almost the same thing.

      1. Chris says:

        Hardly the same at all, AFAIK right of veto would allow them to veto something even if they’re the only one that disagrees with it, casting vote would only come in if the vote was an equal split.

  5. thejudge13 says:

    It’s questionable whether this FIA executive can enforce the rules already in place.

    Statute 1 of the FIA constitution states that the federation and its members will refrain from “manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect”.

    Ferrari are surely in breach of of this carrying Italian military logos on their cars this weekend in support of the plight of their marines awaiting a possible murder trial.

    There are already anecdotes of Indian F1 fans burning Ferrari gear disgusted with their intervention http://wp.me/p2HWOP-gd

    You would think this is a fairly simple rule to enforce – unlike very complicated matters like RRA

  6. verstappen says:

    Hmmmm

    “A massive percentage of these actions that take place, people settle. They don’t want the trouble.

    Bernie’s way to ratte them. ‘Does he want to settle, or is it delaying tactics?’

    1. Almidano says:

      A businessman I met recently offers this:

      - Bernie can set up a “finance facilities” company in Germany, which could go to the self same bank in question and borrow the amount [£400m].
      He can then drag out the litigation process for 5 years or so before agreeing to settle out of court for a reduced sum, possibly £150m.
      Meanwhile he has invested the borrowed £400m in a Qatari bank and made 8% interest per year. This brings in a profit of £32m pa x 5 years = £160m.
      From this he pays the £150 to settle.

      Then he defaults on the loan of £400m that he took out from the same bank until the bank sues.. then he settles again out of court, again from borrowed capital, etc, etc.

      I have to stress that I know the guy who passed this on only very very slightly. hardly at all in fact.

  7. Heinzman says:

    Although a Ferrari fan for many years, I do not support the team’s sporting privileges (although they are slowly abating).

    Fair enough they are financially compensated for their long term standing and investment, but this compensation should not have any bearing upon the equality of the competition.

  8. M.Wishart says:

    Very interesting article, and even more interesting is that “Red Bull” has a permanent seat at the top table!!!

    Yes they are successful at the moment, winning in the past 3 years, but who is to say its not a flash in the pan?

    Good on Red Bull for there success, but were is their history, and I am very glad to see that “Williams” is classed in the top group, but then why does “Mercedes” deserve to be there? They have history, but just not there own history. Lotus/Renault deserves it more than “Mercedes”, but then again the Lotus/Renault is in the hands of new owners so can you class there recent history ie 2005/2006 championships as their’s?

    Like I said very interesting article, and I dont mean to go on about history, but it does matter to the sport, having “Ferrari” and “McLaren” in there, but in the same class as “Red Bull”….!!!

    Please……

    1. Tim says:

      Agree wholeheartedly, but in F1, history vs $$$, which do you think will win. Every time. Daimler held out for a seat in order to sign the mysterious Concorde. Having Daimler onboard fattens ecclestone’s IPO.

      Tim

    2. snailtrail says:

      Couldn’t agree more – just goes to show that its all about the money and nothing else – why else would Redbull be considered important to F1′s future.

    3. Mathew says:

      Wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact Red Bull comprises 2 teams would it, nah it’s cos he’s got cash…. Conspiracy theory…..

  9. Irish con says:

    See with matters off the track in f1 I don’t care about. I just want to see great racing and a exciting championship on the best tracks.

  10. What does this “Although figures of €500,000 basic entry plus €7,000 per point were mooted, it seems that the figure in dollars is closer to the final outcome.” mean?

    No other figures are mentioned in the article, so this sentence has no meaning.

    Did you forget to write something James?

    1. James Allen says:

      It means $500k and $7k per point, rather than €500k and €7k per point.

  11. He do says:

    I’m a bit confused … I thought the lower teams wanted customer cars to reduce the amount they had to spend on developing & manufacturing a new chassis each year?

  12. AlexD says:

    So Ecclestone gave 40M to Gribkovsky and it is being considered as a Christmas gift?
    Nice world we live in……

    1. Davexxx says:

      I’m back on his Xmas list.. ;-)

  13. Craig in Manila says:

    JA,

    Just to clarify please, on the new F1 Strategy Group….
    RightsHolder has six seats.
    FIA has six seats.
    And the six teams basically get one seat each.
    Is that right ?
    So the rightsholder or the FIA just have to have one team on their side to be able to scuttle the other teams votes ?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, they need one more team than the other side to carry the day. If its a split vote, Ferrari’s vote decides it. That’s my understanding so far, but I’m looking into it more

      1. Sossoliso says:

        If that be the case, all Ferrari have to do is make sure for EVERY ISSUE, there are enough FORs and AGAINSTs and they get to decide the outcome.

  14. Mike84 says:

    It must be my lack of a British education, but what is a “casting vote”, please?

    1. Random Person says:

      It means the ‘deciding vote’, although that usually only counts if the votes are tied. For example if something had 6 votes either side, the side that Ferrari were on would succeed.

    2. Richard says:

      If it’s a split decision, i.e. 50/50 dead heat, whichever side Ferrari are on are the winners.

  15. jpinx says:

    Why is the “rules committee” not made up of the 6 top-scoring teams from the previous year? Or maybe averaged/aggregated over the previous 3 years or so. I’d hate for RedBull to lose Newey and Sauber to have to tolerte a non-winning team making the rules.

    The committee-makers have very, very short vision. :(

  16. JR says:

    Kurt Faltlhauser, head of Bayern’s administrative board said: “The price we were offered by CVC was surprisingly high and it came as a great relief.”

    But didn’t cover all the banker’s bonuses, so now they want more.

  17. Elie says:

    This is very bad for the sport. On one hand Ferrari forgo their veto right but on the other they get a casting vote -which is just as powerful. Given that the smaller teams do not have a seat it would make perfect sense for the 6th seat to have the casting vote because in effect it would represent the interests of 7 teams.! -( hence 7 seats v5)

    Whilst Im not directly against customer teams / cars I’m very much against any process that may make independent teams unviable & this will potentially do that to the likes of Sauber. The business models of these teams cannot be protected by this new strategy team if the voting is as above.

    On the few side that seems quite reasonable ( I’m sure the smaller teams might concur) . Am I the only one wondering what happened to the cost cutting discussions ?

    James on a separate note , although very much highlighting the problem with the strategy committee -the political situation with Ferrari marking their cars with Italian navy flags and their press statements is abhorant and Ferrari should be stopped by the FIA for contravening the rules and more importantly for insulting the fans and organisers of the Indian GP- Totally unacceptable !- please update any further info you may have. Many thanks .

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