There has not been any reaction yet from the Formula 1 teams to Friday’s FIA World Council announcements on the Bahrain Grand Prix being reinstated.
It is likely that they will discuss the developments at the start of next week and may even respond before travelling to Montreal for the next race. Not for the first time, Montreal is likely to be the setting for an intense weekend of politics.
Several teams, including Red Bull, Renault, Virgin and Sauber issued press releases after Friday’s announcement, but these mostly featured only preview material for the Canadian Grand Prix, without making any mention of the Bahrain news.
Only Renault had a position, wherein Eric Bouiller said, “Lotus Renault GP acknowledge the decision made by the FIA World Motor Sport Council today (Friday 3rd June 2011). That decision is likely to be discussed internally within FOTA, and a more detailed joint position may be defined after those discussions have taken place.
“I have already spoken at length about our team’s position recently: we are happy to go to Bahrain as long as our safety and the security of the people living there is guaranteed.”
But another point which hasn’t had much airplay is that the maximum number of events under the current Concorde Agreement is 20 whereas the calendar issued on Friday has 21 events on it. Turkey has an asterisk next to its name and it may be if the teams push back hard enough against a 21st race, that Turkey drops out.
But, as Bernie Ecclestone is always keen to point out, more races equals more money for teams. On Friday morning, before the FIA World Council sat down to meet, financial journalist Christian Sylt, put out a press release saying that “revenue from Formula One’s commercial rights will reach more than $3bn annually by 2016 “. This is in comparison to the $1.5 billion it generated in the 2010 season.
This assertion is based on race hosting fees increasing dramatically, such that “the highest race hosting fee, which currently stands at $50m, will be more than $100m by the end of the decade,” because of the fee escalator, which works on compound interest year on year. Clearly it is assumed that TV revenues will also jump dramatically.
One paragraph stood out in the statement, relating to how the increase in revenues will be good news for the F1 teams; ” In 2016 the total prize fund will come to $1,575m, with the winner of the constructors’ championship taking home a $222m reward. This amount is bigger than the entire annual budget of seven of the current 12 teams and compares to the $87m that Red Bull Racing received for winning the championship in 2010.”
This assertion is based on teams continuing to receive 50% of the revenues, rather than an increased percentage that they are looking for in the current round of negotiations.
Clearly there is a simple message here, which Ecclestone wanted the potential buyers of CVC’s stake to get. But also there is a message about how the ramping up of F1 activity would be good news for the teams. The nub of it is that in F1’s push for prosperity, they are all in this together.
It is an important point to bear in mind, as the report was picked up by Reuters and many other news organisations and spread widely on the day that the FIA decided F1 should reinstate Bahrain.