Big politics are at play in formula one.
Amid all the noise about quiet engines and the urgent need to change rules, many suspect Bernie Ecclestone is hard at work on his latest coup. According to the respected correspondent for Auto Motor und Sport, Michael Schmidt, the F1 chief executive is furious the FIA won the battle to get turbo V6s on the grid. Ecclestone is reportedly now determined to win the war.
FIA president Jean Todt declared mere hours ago that a EUR 150 million per team budget cap for 2015 was set to be imminently agreed. “From all of my discussions,” said the Frenchman, “I conclude that the majority of the teams, the FIA and the rights owners do want this cost limitation.”
Suddenly, everything has changed. Schmidt reports that the top teams in the new F1 strategy group – Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes – counter-punched with a proposal of EUR 260 million. In effect, that would not be a budget ‘cap’ at all. But Todt is now even saying: “All six teams in the strategy group are suddenly against a budget cap.” The other strategy group teams are McLaren, Williams and Lotus.
It appears Ecclestone may be moving to corner Todt and the FIA. Initially a wild rumour, it now appears more and more plausible that Ecclestone is attempting a takeover coup that could leave F1’s governing body completely in the cold. Schmidt reports that Ecclestone is so serious he is even prepared to drop the name ‘formula one’, which is owned by the FIA, in favour of ‘GP1’. Devaluing the existing FIA-controlled F1, by incessantly complaining about quiet engines and a dull, complicated, fuel-saving spectacle, suddenly makes sense. Schmidt reports that Todt was informed about the strategy group’s newfound total opposition to a budget cap through a letter from none other than Ecclestone.