Bernie Ecclestone shrugs off prospect of EU probe into Formula 1

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed concerns regarding the possibility of an official European Union investigation into Formula 1

Bernie Ecclestone shrugs off prospect of EU probe into Formula 1

The payment structure dictated by Ecclestone's Formula One Management, and in particular the way the revenues are slanted in favour of the big teams, could come under the microscope should EU competitions commissioner Margrethe Vestager receive a formal complaint about the way F1 is run.

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If a case is launched, and F1 is found culpable of an abuse of power in the way it handles its affairs, the EU can levy a fine of 10 per cent on turnover, which last year was £1.06billion, as well as force a shake up of its structure.

Commercial rights holder Ecclestone remains relaxed about the matter.

"I'm quite sure in all sorts of businesses there are people complaining for some reason to the European Commission," he told AUTOSPORT.

"I'm sure they get fed up of people complaining, but I can assure you nobody has any complaints here.

"If they do then they shouldn't have signed the contracts [with FOM], but they did and they knew what they were doing.

"So if a complaint does go ahead then I hope the EU has the patience to deal with it."

Crucial to any case for Vestager, should there be one to answer, would be the degree of harm on a business suffered by the smaller teams.

The demise of Caterham and Marussia last year resulted in Anneliese Dodds, a UK member of the European parliament, directing her concerns regarding F1 to Vestager.

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A complaint to the EU does not have to come from a team, as any individual could do so with the proviso being there is enough evidence to launch an investigation.

Assessing the impact on F1 of such an investigation, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn told AUTOSPORT: "It would tie you up a lot, and I don't think anybody wants that.

"I'm sure if one were to happen it would be done with the intention of making things better for the fans and the participants.

"It would be about getting more equality and healthy competition because that's what we all want.

"Nothing else, there are no hidden commercial agendas, just the desire for the sport to be healthy."

As Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley remarked, the shockwaves caused recently by the FBI's investigation into football's world governing body, FIFA, showed no sport is beyond reproach.

"Any investigation into F1 would clearly be very significant, and have to be very carefully thought out," Fernley told AUTOSPORT.

"Of course there is a heightened awareness of issues in F1 generated by MEPs in the recent past.

"But at the moment there isn't any move from the teams to make a complaint, but that's not to say for one minute a team won't do so.

"If you feel there is a case and you make a case then you have a responsibility to the sport to do that."

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