Bernie Ecclestone could be planning to pull $100 million out of the coffers to give the negotiations over F1’s next Concorde Agreement a kick-start. In 2005, amid the teams’ threats that they would give up on the income offered by Formula One and set up their own series, Ecclestone pulled off a masterstroke by paying Ferrari $100 million to sign up.
Ferrari was selected by the F1 chief executive due to its arguably indispensible value to the sport, and indeed the breakaway threat duly folded. Now, seven years into the future, talks about the period beyond 2012 are getting set to move into high gear.
The difference this time is that the teams are united under their FOTA umbrella, even though Ecclestone would love to see the current disagreements over a cost-cutting agreement result in the union’s split.
However, with breakaway threats believed to now be strictly prohibited, the teams’ new tactic could be the suggestion of an involvement as co-owners of the lucrative commercial rights.
“On my side, we have certain obligations not to speak about sensitive subjects. Any kind of declaration we may make can be used and – let me put it this way – manipulated for the wrong reasons, so I would say that I cannot comment on that,” said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali in Abu Dhabi. But after the shock cancellation of a key FOTA meeting this weekend, rumours are rife.
“What is being said among members of the teams is that, as he did in the past, Ecclestone could make an unique offer to renew (the Concorde Agreement) between Ferrari and FOM,” O Estado de S.Paulo correspondent Livio Oricchio wrote.
“If FOTA ceases to exist – and the chances of this seem high – and Ferrari accepts an offer from Ecclestone, the others will feel obliged to negotiate as well. History will repeat,” he added.