Bernie's £40 million sweetener

The battle for the allegiance of Formula 1's teams between Bernie Ecclestone and the breakaway Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC) organisation looks set to come to a head this week, with Ecclestone due to meet team bosses on Tuesday

Bernie's £40 million sweetener

The F1 promoter will attempt to kill off the GPWC by offering the teams an improved financial package worth a total of $3 billion (£1.6 billion) over a five-year period.

Ecclestone landed a major coup last week by winning Ferrari over into his corner, a move that was widely perceived as sounding the death knell for the GPWC given the Italian team's status as the biggest draw for F1 fans worldwide. However, GPWC figurehead Jurgen Hubbert of Mercedes-Benz reacted by urging the other nine teams not to lose their nerve and accept an extension of the Concorde Agreement on Ecclestone's terms.

Hubbert was critical of Ecclestone's tactics in seeking a private deal with Ferrari as leverage to "bounce" the other teams into submission. Ferrari's defection undoubtedly makes it harder to convince team bosses that the GPWC can be a viable alternative to F1 - as Minardi team principal Paul Stoddart pointed out last week - and means that the organisation will probably have to outbid Ecclestone by a substantial margin if it is to get off the ground.

It is understood that, under the terms of a new deal that would extend the Concorde Agreement until 2012, Ecclestone will offer each team a minimum of £40 million per season from 2008, together with a signing-on fee of £35 million. Under the current arrangement smaller teams can expect to receive around £15 million in commercial revenues each season, rising to £50 million for the champion constructor - a figure that could be doubled under Ecclestone's new proposal.

Ecclestone's key task in Tuesday's meeting will be to assuage fears that he is promising Ferrari preferential treatment and to convince the other nine team bosses that he is genuinely ready to accept a more equitable distribution of the sport's financial rewards.

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