Ecclestone & Todt to meet Thursday

F1 powerbrokers Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt are set to meet on Thursday, according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. The topic? The unsigned 2013 Concorde Agreement.

Although F1 chief executive Ecclestone has inked bilateral financial agreements with all the teams, the signatures are still missing on the crucial pact between the teams, the commercial rights holder, and the FIA.

As the world championship belongs to the FIA, the Paris federation’s president Jean Todt might not be too worried. At the moment, with no Concorde in place, the FIA is completely free to dictate and change the rules and regulations, whilst still collecting the teams’ entry fees.

According to German correspondent Michael Schmidt, Ecclestone might not be worried either.

Not having a tripartite agreement signed and sealed might be working in his favour at a timely moment.

The 82-year-old Briton’s grip on power might seem under threat by the legal implications of the Gribkowsky corruption scandal, but at present – with no Concorde in place – he is perhaps the only man who can keep the entire circus working seamlessly.


Marussia not offered 2013 Concorde Agreement deal

Marussia is the only team on the official 2013 entry list that is yet to be offered a new Concorde Agreement deal.

The German website reports that the news could be particularly bad for the Russian-owned British backmarker, as Bernie Ecclestone is apparently considering scrapping the so-called ‘column 3′ benefits for the sport’s new teams that debuted in 2010. Presumably, Ecclestone wants to scrap the column-3 entitlements because Caterham has moved into a higher status due to regularly finishing tenth in the constructors’ world championship. And HRT has not applied to compete in 2013.

Marussia is therefore the only active team that has not even been offered a new Concorde Agreement deal by Ecclestone.

“The last thing we were told was that the columns 1, 2 and 3 will still be there. But to be honest, as long as there is no agreement, who knows?” said the team’s sporting director Graeme Lowdon.

He insisted: “It has no effect on us in terms of us being here. We will be here, no question.”

But the situation has raised the question of whether Marussia will ever be offered a Concorde Agreement deal.

“I don’t know, it’s up to Bernie,” Lowdon explained. “It is strange that some teams have one while others don’t. You would have to ask the owner of the commercial rights or the FIA.”


Mercedes ready to sign new Concorde

Mercedes parent Daimler has reportedly decided to stay in F1 beyond 2012.

In Singapore this weekend, rumours swirled in the paddock that the Stuttgart manufacturer is on the verge of pulling the plug. That, combined with the dithering over the 2012 Concorde Agreement, could explain the long delay in Lewis Hamilton’s decision about whether to join the so-called ‘Silver Arrows’ in 2013.

German sources had reported that Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche has ordered cost cuts of more than a billion euros in the Mercedes road car division. That ramped up fears that the F1 programme would also get the axe.

Responding to the rumours, Norbert Haug said in Singapore: “I believe we have already established the right balance with regards to the costs (of competing in F1).

“I say that our budget is reasonable while our results are not good enough,” he is quoted by DPA news agency.

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport now reports that Daimler has decided to definitely keep the Mercedes brand in formula one, meaning the new Concorde could be signed as early as next week.


Whitmarsh urges Mercedes to sign Concorde Agreement

Martin Whitmarsh has urged Mercedes to finally sign the new Concorde Agreement.

Despite Bernie Ecclestone’s earlier intimations to the contrary, it emerged at Hockenheim that Mercedes is in fact still yet to agree to the terms of the new deal. It is believed a major sticking point is that top rivals McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull have all been offered places on F1’s post-floatation board, but not Mercedes.

Indeed, in an interview with McLaren boss Whitmarsh posted on F1’s official website, the transcript quotes the questioner as saying that only “three team members from Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren” will be on the board.

“I don’t think that it is a secret anymore that nine teams have signed the contract — and I really hope that the silver team next door (Mercedes) will sign very shortly and it will be then that we will take up our board position,” said Whitmarsh.

Another major hurdle to the finalisation of the 2013 Concorde is the fact that the FIA is also yet to sign up. When asked about that, Whitmarsh answered: “Well, my fear is that at the moment the deal hasn’t been done and therefore it adds some volatility to the situation.

“At times Formula One has lost opportunities because of inner frictions.”

The Briton did, however, admit that it would be “possible” for formula one to live without its current governing body.

“But I don’t think it is a productive thing,” added Whitmarsh.

Interestingly, Whitmarsh – the head of the now-fractured teams alliance FOTA – also revealed that teams are in fact not signing a single Concorde Agreement, but a swathe of “individual contracts”.

“If we (McLaren) were not happy with our contract we wouldn’t have signed it, so I am not complaining, but the danger is that if we all have individual contracts that is probably not aligning us and bringing us together,” he said. “It (the Concorde Agreement) has never been perfect, but it’s a model that before we abandon it we should be very cautious. Why reinvent something if it functions?”


Mercedes, FIA, yet to agree new Concorde Agreement?

A major German daily has cast doubt on Bernie Ecclestone’s claim that every team has now signed up for the 2013 Concorde Agreement.

The F1 chief executive said earlier this month that there is now “total agreement” with regards to the way forward in light of the sport’s expiring commercial deal with the competing teams and the governing FIA.

“We are just talking to the lawyers … ‘why have you used this word, that word’. Typical lawyers but everything’s fine,” said Ecclestone. “Commercially it’s done,” he told the Daily Mail on July 6.

But German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport reported this week that the Jean Todt-led federation has in fact not yet agreed to the currently tripartite deal. And it seems Ecclestone’s dispute with Mercedes-Benz – the supplier of engines to three formula one teams including McLaren, and also owner of its own bespoke works team – might also be ongoing.

That is the claim of Die Welt newspaper, reporting on Thursday that the risk remains that F1 is “without Mercedes” next year.

When asked, the German marque’s Norbert Haug said only that Mercedes is in “constructive talks”.

Die Welt went further, claiming that Niki Lauda, the legendary triple world champion and always-present F1 insider, has been engaged by Mercedes to advise and negotiate with Ecclestone. The newspaper said Mercedes “is reluctant” to commit to F1 for the full term of Ecclestone’s new 2013-2020 Concorde.

Ecclestone’s rules plan could hit legal roadblock

Bernie Ecclestone plans to see F1’s major teams decide the technical regulations could hit a legal roadblock.

When revealing that all the teams have agreed to a new Concorde Agreement for 2013, the sport’s chief executive said recently: “Now what we’ve got to do is look at how the technical regulations are made.

“It should be the teams, though not all the teams, who do that. They are the people who have to come up with the money, not the FIA. “It would be the established teams who are here to stay – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably Williams as old timers – deciding what to do.”

A ‘legal insider’, however, questioned Ecclestone’s plan to have the teams make the rules and the FIA simply police them.

“It affects competition,” the source told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, “because it gives the teams that determine the rules – and therefore know what they are before anyone else – an unfair advantage. That would amount to an abuse of power,” added the source.

The FIA, who currently write the F1 rules, is yet to sign up to the 2013 Concorde. The insider said the Jean Todt-led federation, or the teams not selected to write the rules, could legally challenge Ecclestone’s plans.


Ecclestone: F1 close to Concorde Agreement deal

F1 appears closer to having an all-new Concorde Agreement in place for 2013 and beyond.

Following a major falling out with Mercedes, Bernie Ecclestone now insists there is in fact “total agreement” up and down the pitlane with regards to the sport’s commercial structure beyond the expiry of the current contract.

“Total agreement,” he told the Daily Mail when asked about the progress of the next Concorde. “We are just talking to the lawyers — ‘why have you used this word, that word?’. Typical lawyers,” said the sport’s 81-year-old supremo, “but everything’s fine. Commercially it’s done.”

The next step, Ecclestone suggested, is to work out how the sport’s technical regulations are written in the future.

“It should be the teams, though not all the teams, who do that,” he said. “They are the people who have to come up with the money, not the FIA. It would be the established teams who are here to stay – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, Mercedes and probably Williams as old timers – deciding what to do.”


Brawn optimistic over Ecclestone row solution

Ross Brawn has revealed he feels “optimistic” Mercedes will reach a deal with Bernie Ecclestone for the new Concorde Agreement.

Earlier, the German carmaker had threatened to quit formula one because rival top teams including Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull had agreed much better deals for the new agreement beyond 2012.

“You’ll have to wait to see,” F1 chief executive Ecclestone said recently in Monaco, “but I’m confident everything with Mercedes will be fine.”

Briton Brawn, the Brackley based Mercedes team’s principal, is now sounding similarly hopeful.

“We have finally made good progress in the negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone,” he is quoted by Germany’s Sport Bild. “That’s why I am optimistic that we will find a solution,” added Brawn.


F1 calendar to feature more than 20 races?

The new Concorde Agreement will allow Bernie Ecclestone to expand F1’s race calendar.

The current deal provides for 17 races, with only separate agreements with the teams pushing the existing race schedule to twenty grands prix between March and November. F1 chief executive Ecclestone said this weekend in Monaco that he is close to finalising the 2013 commercial contract with all the teams.

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, business journalist Christian Sylt reports that the new deal will “allow Ecclestone to set up more races”.

The 2013 Concorde builds in the “flexibility to go beyond 20 races”, Ecclestone confirmed.

“We have got four or five places waiting to do something.”

One host in waiting is Thailand, who have made their intentions clear by successfully bidding to host this year’s end-of-season Race of Champions event in December.

“We aim to bring Formula One to Thailand as well,” said the southeast Asian country’s sports minister Chumphol Silpa-archa.


Mercedes moves towards Concorde deal

Mercedes appears on the verge of signing up to F1’s future. The German carmaker had been locked in dispute with the sport’s chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, after rival top teams were offered better deals for the post-2012 Concorde Agreement. But Ecclestone told CNN on Thursday that “all the current teams” have signed up “until 2020”.

“Everybody has agreed with it,” the 81-year-old insisted.

Asked if Mercedes is counted among that number, Ecclestone added: “You’ll have to wait to see but I’m confident everything with Mercedes will be fine.”

Asked if he is no longer worried the Brackley based team, that currently fields Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, might pull out of F1, the diminutive Briton insisted: “Absolutely.”

On Thursday in Monaco, however, Mercedes was not confirming a done deal.

“On this matter, I can confirm we are having constructive discussions that are heading in the right direction,” said vice-president Norbert Haug.

Earlier in the Principality, team boss Ross Brawn described the talks as “delicate”.