JANUARY 25, 2005
A big day? Or just another meeting
The Formula 1 team bosses meet today in London to discuss the matters of the moment and while some are expecting Bernie Ecclestone to make them offers they cannot refuse to sign up for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from 2008 to 2012, other expect that Ecclestone may just ignore the whole business and throw everyone off their stride. There have been reports that Ecclestone is willing to pay teams huge sums to sign up but at the moment no team owner we have spoken to has been offered anything and it seems that Ecclestone is still testing the water to see the level of support that he has. At the moment there seems no great desire for the team bosses to get involved and most are talking about standing back and watching to see what happens. If Ecclestone is after a quick solution to the problem he may have trouble getting it because it does not look like anyone is going to sign a deal until they see what the GPWC has on offer. To win the game Ecclestone will need to sign up at least four other teams and while Red Bull Racing and Jordan may seem to be good targets both now having the backing of seriously well-funded business organizations which may want to expand their revenues in F1. Minardi is weak but then Paul Stoddart has proved that he is a man who will fight to the finish for what he wants. Peter Sauber is also in an exposed position but he has always been a law unto himself and will not do anything without carefully considering the options available to him. The two Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda are carefully sitting on the fence and will go with whichever side they believe will be successful. McLaren, Williams and Renault are all supported to a lesser or greater extent by GPWC members Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Renault and so should line up against Ecclestone. However, it is an odd situation in that Renault's F1 programme is run by Flavio Briatore, a man who is very close to Ecclestone. An alliance of five or six teams against the FOM-FIA-Ferrari alliance would be a big problem.
However, in our opinion, the biggest threat to Ecclestone's future control of the sport remains the possibility of a deal between the GPWC and the Formula 1 banks which own 75% of the Formula One Holdings company.
"We have a current agreement which is in force to the end of 2007," says McLaren's Ron Dennis. "We must be open-minded and patient and we'll consider the best position for our teams and the best position for the future of Formula 1, but in the right timescale. At the moment none of the proposals have any relevance at all to the period between now and the end of 2007 so there's no incentive to rush into any new agreement."
Dennis said that he Ferrari may have decided to do the deal because of money on offer.
"I presume they have had some financial inducement to enter into some sort of agreement sooner," he said. "But that's certainly not as I understand it a situation that exists with any of the other teams and certainly not McLaren."
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