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.