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.


Todt denies FIA to lighten grip on F1

Jean Todt has dismissed suggestions he is willing to loosen the FIA’s grip on Formula One in return for more money.

Ahead of a crucial meeting between the FIA president, Bernie Ecclestone and the teams in Paris on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported speculation Frenchman Todt will agree to trade some of the federation’s rule-making power for a bigger share of the sport’s financial pie.

“For me,” Todt said, “the FIA must have a bigger impact, not erosion.

“It makes me smile when I read that we are going to lose control … I will never allow things which are under our responsibility to be dealt with by anybody else.”

It is rumoured that one way Todt will boost the FIA’s coffers is by increasing the cost of the entry fees for F1 teams.

“We cannot be a federation without having any revenue. So where do we find our revenues?” he said.

At the same time, he said he has been “a bit disappointed” by the teams’ efforts to reduce costs, insisting he will “expect more drastic proposals” to come.

Todt said he has asked 2014 engine suppliers Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes to also “take that (reducing costs) into consideration”.

Max Mosley, who backed Todt to succeed him when he stepped down as FIA president a few years ago, is slightly critical of the former Ferrari boss’s approach.

“At the moment maybe he’s a little bit too reluctant to confront,” Mosley told Sky Sports. “He seeks consensus. It’s good to have consensus but sometimes you’ve got to get them (the teams) to just do something.”


Power-players Ecclestone, Todt meet with Ferrari

F1 power players Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt on Friday met with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo at the fabled Italian team’s Maranello headquarters.

Ferrari admitted the meeting was “cordial and productive”, but it comes at a fascinating and awkward time for formula one, as all three sides clash over key issues.

Ecclestone and Todt, for instance, are arguing over the FIA’s desire to make more money from the sport, while Montezemolo is being told by Todt to pay much more for entry fees next year. The Ferrari president, meanwhile, slammed as a “joke” Todt’s vision of electric cars on the grid. Montezemolo is not even ruling out Ferrari quitting the sport.

“If formula one is not any more an extreme technology competition, where the technology can be transferred to the road car, maybe we can see formula one without Ferrari,” he told CNN this week.

Todt, however, who revealed that Stefano Domenicali was also at the Maranello meeting, is putting his mind to attracting new manufacturers to F1, whilst ensuring that Mercedes’ argument with Ecclestone does not cause the German carmaker to quit.

“I don’t think that will happen, but we must do everything to keep them in formula one,” he told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.

And: “Maybe I can get some manufacturers who are involved in long-distance races – Audi, Toyota, Porsche and the Koreans – to produce engines for F1,” said Todt.

The key, he said, is cutting costs.

“Since 2005 we have reduced the cost by 30 per cent, but in the next three years we need another 30 per cent or we risk losing some teams,” said Todt.


Todt reveals Alonso’s 2000 ‘betrayal’

Jean Todt has revealed he did not attempt to sign Fernando Alonso during his time as Ferrari boss due to an earlier betrayal.

The Frenchman, who is now the FIA president, reigned over Ferrari from the 90s until 2008. At the end of 2006, he chose Kimi Raikkonen as the retiring ‘number 1’ Michael Schumacher’s replacement, even though Spaniard Alonso – now Ferrari’s long term hope – was also on the market.

Alonso was only subsequently brought to Ferrari by Todt’s successor Stefano Domenicali, and Todt has now told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport exactly why. He recalls 2000, the year before Alonso – then an impressive fresh-faced F3000 driver – made his F1 debut with Minardi.

“We (Ferrari) reached an agreement in principle with Fernando, but then (Flavio) Briatore signed him,” said Todt. “It was after his victory in F3000 in Spa when we got in contact with his manager, who came to my home in Maranello, and we agreed.

“It (Alonso signing with Briatore) was something I took badly and after that there was no more contact.”

The rest – Alonso’s two titles with Renault, his ill-fated switch to McLaren and finally his debut as a Ferrari driver in 2010 – is history.

Alonso’s manager in 2000, Adrian Campos, confirms: “Ferrari told us to wait and not to sign with anyone else, but Briatore walked through the door with a contract under his arm.”

Todt named the “very good leader” Alonso, as well as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton as “the favourites” to win the 2012 title.


Team dithering means F1 cost-cutting at risk

he prospect of radical cost-cutting in F1 is hanging in the balance, as Jean Todt’s end-of-June deadline looms and Formula One teams dither.

That is the claim of Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, reporting the risk that June 30 could come and go without significant reforms being put to the World Motor Sport Council.

After Saturday, the 2013 rules can only be influenced by the teams in the unlikely event that they can completely agree. There were heated discussions – even involving FIA president Todt and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone – at Valencia recently, but large areas of common ground are yet to be trodden.

“At least seven of the 12 teams are on a fine line if for example they lose a sponsor,” journalist Michael Schmidt said. “In this environment, it’s a mystery why the teams are still arguing about the introduction of cost control in the FIA sporting regulations.”

Toto Wolff, a shareholder who is gaining increasing influence at Williams, urged the need to police breaches of the cost rules, citing rumours some teams are simply ignoring the current resource restriction agreement.

“We need clear penalties as deterrents,” said the Austrian.

But his boss Sir Frank Williams said in an interview this week that he is “against any kind of interference”.

“I don’t want any third-party interference with one’s business, to have people sneaking around wanting to check this and that,” he said. “It’s just like waiting for the taxman every day.”

That interview has now disappeared from F1’s official website. And Auto Motor und Sport reports that Lotus and Force India – teams that arguably should welcome cost cutting – are opposed to the further culling of allowed wind tunnel testing time.

It seems the middle-ranking teams are most worried about the cost of buying a V6 engine and KERS package.

“I will ensure that it remains affordable,” Todt is quoted as saying, but the prices being quoted behind closed doors by F1’s engine suppliers tell a different story.


Todt: F1 is too expensive

Jean Todt has admitted he is worried some F1 teams could collapse if costs in the sport are not reduced.

After the FIA’s meeting of its World Motor Sport Council last Friday, a media statement revealed that the governing body is “having active discussions with teams regarding cost control”. The FIA added that the Council will have to vote on any amendments to the chassis rules for 2013 prior to the end of this month.

“The intention is to help all teams participate in the championship in a fair and equal manner,” the statement added.

FIA president Todt is quoted by the German language Speed Week: “For me, Formula One is too expensive. If we do nothing, we could get into a situation where we have less than twelve teams on the grid.”

Last week, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo insisted F1 cannot ignore the impact of Europe’s worsening economic crisis.

“Ferrari is in agreement with the FIA’s position that drastic intervention is required,” he said. “This is no longer the moment for getting bogged down in sterile discussions or the meanderings of engineers, usually only concerned in defending the interests of someone or other.

“The question (of costs) has to be tackled at the highest level without further delay,” added Montezemolo.


FIA reveals cost-cutting talks with F1 teams

F1’s governing body on Friday confirmed it is in talks with the teams about cutting costs.

The vast majority of the teams – even big-spender Ferrari – recently wrote to FIA president Jean Todt to ask that the Paris federation get involved in officially policing the reduction of costs. Reigning world champion Red Bull, and its satellite Toro Rosso, are the odd ones out, but the momentum for a new radical cost-cutting push is building, amid talk a simple budget cap – Max Mosley’s once highly-controversial proposal – could be the answer.

“At their request, the FIA is having active discussions with teams regarding cost control,” the governing body said after a meeting on Friday of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.

The FIA added that “any amendments to the technical regulations resulting from a further limit on expenditure on the chassis will be submitted to the (council) via a fax vote before 30 June”.

“The intention is to help all teams participate in the championship in a fair and equal manner,” the statement added.

The FIA also revealed that it is having “constructive” talks with Bernie Ecclestone over the new Concorde Agreement, with a deal on the cards “in the coming weeks”.


Todt throws a spanner in F1 plans

As powerful businessmen slice up the F1 pie, the sport’s governing body also wants a piece.

Amid all the talk about the planned multi-billion Singapore floatation, a crucial detail has been missing: the sanctioning body, the Paris based FIA, is yet to sign the new Concorde Agreement. Sky News reported on Thursday that president Jean Todt has appointed an investment bank to advise on the implications of the current goings-on.

“This is a pretty naked effort by the FIA to get its hands on part of the economic value that F1’s management and owners have created,” an insider said. “They are moving on this now because it is the moment of maximum disruption.”

Another missing piece of the puzzle is Mercedes’ signature, as the carmaker’s disagreement with Bernie Ecclestone threatens to blow a hole in the sport’s valuation.

“I think we’ve got a long way to go before we arrive at the final solutions,” team boss Ross Brawn told reporters in Monaco. “I don’t think things are closed yet.”


Todt breaks silence on Bahrain GP

Jean Todt has broken his long and conspicuous silence over the Bahrain controversy. Until now, the ultra-low-profile FIA president had been reluctant to speak on the issue, despite deciding that the sport should push ahead with this weekend’s race in the troubled island Kingdom.

So unremarkable was Frenchman Todt’s visit to Shanghai last weekend that most reporters believed he in fact left China on Saturday. He then appeared on Sunday’s grid, giving reluctantly short soundbites and congratulating his former Ferrari colleague Ross Brawn on Nico Rosberg’s win.

Todt even finally commented on Bahrain. Asked why the event is going ahead despite the ongoing controversy, he told German RTL television: “It has a date on the calendar and was always planned.

“There has been some controversy about it, but the FIA is a sports organisation. We are only interested in sport — not politics. Our responsibility is that people can go there and have good and secure conditions. This will be the case,” Todt insisted.

“We have spoken in this regard with representatives of the government, with the embassies and with neighbouring countries, as well as with European foreign ministries. We have made an extension examination with a lot of checks. It is clear that the grand prix can go ahead.

“At the moment, a major golf tournament is going ahead in Bahrain. On one hand, there are unpleasant political aspects as well, but it’s the same thing all over the world. On the other hand, we are a sport. We are confident that the next grand prix will go ahead just as successfully as this one here in China,” he added.