It should come to no ones surprise that there is not much solidarity between F1 teams. Approving anything unanimously is almost impossible. This was always Bernie’s strong suit when negotiating the last Concorde Agreement back in 2012. Though the Teams where united at first, all it took was a wave of the dollar bills for the teams to turn against each other, and seek independent benefits from the single man that runs the sport.
As of Yesterday, Force India & Sauber, each filed a complaint with the European Commission for:
violation of European Competition Law challenging the rule making powers and privileges, which are harming the sport,”
Guess the two that have a stronger say in the sports future?
The F1 Strategy Group is comprised of 5+1 teams: Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Williams & Red Bull. The additional team is the highest ranking team that year that is not one of the 5 mentioned before. Belonging to this Group, allows you to propose, approve or deny rule changes. Analyze the names for a second and you’ll notice how skewed thing are here. The permanent members are every single manufacturer, bar one.
It is in this Group that cost cutting measures, engine changes, etc are decided and applied. To put it simple, half of the grid decides the direction the sport will take, which will in effect have implications for every single team; from their budget to their competitive nature.
Still think it isn’t unfair enough yet? Lets take a look at the second item on the complaint:
“Congratulations, you still have a place on the grid.”
To clarify, the complaint is not against the payment structure that F1 has in place. To recap it, this is how prize money funds are redistributed to the teams. Lets take a quick look.
Tier 1 is distributed equally among the top ten teams and given the above numbers, would award each team U$ 40.8m. In order to belong to Tier 1, you must have placed 10th or higher in two of the last three championships. Tier 2 teams on the other hand are the Top 10 teams of the season. These winnings are spread percentage...
It’s just standard sport practice that to the victor go the spoils. Nothing new there. Now I’m probably being a bit unfair with Bernie here. After all it is not his fault as he has previously stated that if teams where to come up with another payment scheme, he will happily sign it (the percentage of what comprises the Money Pool is not in question though). Also as of lately, I believe Mr. Ecclestone has appeared more human than before. He has helped Lotus this season with some payments to get them in time to the last few races.
Of course, Bernie knows getting teams to redefine what money they get will never happen by good will since it was him who individually signed each team, and in 4 cases gave them a secret amount of additional money, called: the ‘Historic Team’s Payment.’ Basically, in order to receive such a payment you have to be one of the 4 teams with the most years on the grid. And since this is already a club that is full, the only way you can get in is if someone else drops out.
With Lotus on the brink of becoming Renault once more, it isn’t sure how this might sour the deal. After all the current struggling engine manufacturer was somewhat looking forward to such a yearly payment since they have participated as an engine supplier since the late 1970’s (not consecutively), in order to cover some of the outstanding debt the team have.
I would surely hate it if Renault packed there bags and left the grid, but I also do hope that the EU do look into the matter. It is a touchy subject, but if it where for me the Historic Teams Payment should at least go back in to tier 1 or tier 2 prize money, specially now, that there will be an 11th team which wont be eligible for tier 1 until it has completed at least 3 seasons. In case you are wondering we are probably talking about another U$ 100 million by the low that could very well help some of the lower teams.
Update: In a response by Bernie via Autosport, he claims to hold no grudge, and sees no harm being done.
“We haven’t discouraged or encouraged anybody to do anything...“That’s what the European Union is there for, for these sorts of things...They [the teams] must give it a go, and if they’re successful it’s good, and if not then it costs nothing.” -Bernie Ecclestone
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