Ecclestone urged to broker peace deal
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, June 19th 2009, 10:01 GMT|
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been urged to step forward and broker a peace deal between teams and the FIA to head off the threat of a breakaway championship.
The eight members of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) sent shockwaves through F1 on Thursday night when they announced that they were setting up a rival championship for next year.
With fears that the breakaway could prove damaging, just as American racing suffered when Champ Car and the Indy Racing League split, former world champion Jackie Stewart believes that Ecclestone must play a part in sorting the situation out.
"The biggest player now that may have to be involved in this is Bernie, because after all he has the commercial rights," said Stewart.
"I am sure he does not want a breakaway group, because then that would seriously threaten [F1 owners] CVC and the Bernie Ecclestone package.
"Bernie knows how to do things, he has been very successful in F1 and the sport has been successful with much of what he has done. So he will be playing a fairly big role within the next two or three days.
"But frankly now the teams have made their decision and I don't think they will necessarily have to talk to the FIA at all this weekend. I think they should just get on with the British GP because it is one of the biggest events in the calendar.
"It is very important for the leaders of the world championship to consolidate their position and I believe they should not even bother to talk until Monday or Tuesday."
Ecclestone's role in events is being seen as crucial now, with sources close to FOTA suggesting that the body would not be averse to him playing a role in its new championship.
The man himself was keeping tight-lipped about the situation on Friday morning, however, ducking questions from the media about the situation.
"You'll have to ask Max about it," said Ecclestone about the breakaway plans. "For me, this situation is just back to the future."
Stewart believes that teams' frustrations at the way F1 has been run was the spur for making the bold step to set up their own series.
"I think it's been coming for some time," said Stewart, who has been a long-term critic of the FIA. "I think the teams feel that they have been bullied in some way for quite a long time, trying to force things through.
"I've said for a long time that the FIA needs to be restructured and there needs to be more corporate governance. If that had taken place we would not be in the position we're in at the present time.
"The constant change of the values of what has been suggested, with Max saying first of all £30 million [for a budget cap], then £40 million, then £40 million and we won't put engines or motorhomes in that, it is constantly changing the goalposts. I don't think you can do that in a sport that is the largest capital investment sport in the world."
There are now suggestions that the only way a breakaway can be averted is if FIA president Max Mosley sees through with his plans to step down from his current role when his term ends in October.
An announcement on his intentions could be made as early as next week, with the World Motor Sport Council meeting on Wednesday.
Stewart has no doubts that teams want Mosley's reign of running the sport to come to an end.
"I think they do want Max to go because I think frankly some of the decisions made over the year have been very questionable... I think a lot of people are kind of fed up with the dictatorial attitude."
He added: "I think right now the teams don't have to do anything. They just have to decide how they are going to do what they have said they are going to do, but I think from their point of view it seems that they have made that decision. I think it is now up to the FIA to perhaps come with a totally different proposal."