Don't underestimate manufacturers, says Mosley

Max Mosley, president of motorsport's governing body, the FIA, has warned Formula 1 not to underestimate the power of the engine manufacturers involved in the sport, as the debate over pay-per-view Grands Prix and the threat of a rival series to F1 continues. But he also played down fears of a breakaway series, saying he hoped a compromise deal would be struck to prevent the sport's premier championship breaking up

Don't underestimate manufacturers, says Mosley

Manufacturers headed by Fiat, Renault, Ford, BMW and Mercedes have threatened to start an independent championship after the Concorde Agreement, under which the sport is run, expires in 2007. They are concerned how the sport will be governed in the future - and the threat of pay-per-view television now that a majority share of the commercial rights to the sport has moved into the hands of the Kirch group. The German media company has, in conjunction with EMTV, bought 75 percent of F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone's holding company SLEC, which owns the commercial and broadcasting rights to Formula 1.

"Their threat should be taken seriously," said Mosley. "I would not underestimate the ability of the major manufacturers because if they want to do something of that kind they have enormous influence."

But he hoped it would not be brought to bear.

"I am optimistic it will get sorted out," he added. "The situation we have here is that we have three groups of people: Bernie's family trust [SLEC], the Kirch group and the manufacturers. What they have in common is that they have all been enormously successful in their businesses and in the end this is a business question.

"If you have got those three groups of business people, all of whom are capable of seeing that what you need is one championship with everybody present, I think the overwhelming probability is that they will, between them, reach a deal which reflects the importance of each element in the deal.

"I would be very surprised if that does not happen," continued Mosley. "I would be disappointed but it is something over which the FIA has very little interest because we are not any longer concerned with the commercial elements of the Formula 1 World Championship."

The FIA sold the commercial rights for 100 years from 2011 for £198 million to SLEC. Mosley said the money would all go to charity and would be used to fund improvements in motorsport, road safety and other worthy causes, and denied that the series had been sold off cheaply.

"Saying it is worth that money and getting it is something different," he said. Mosley also repeated his insistence that if there were a rival series to F1 the FIA would not oppose it.

"If a new series does start we would authorise it," he said. "We would treat any rival championship the same as Formula 1."

The FIA president added that he is also confident the manufacturers have the ability to pull off a rival series, including enticing the large majority of teams to follow suit, even though the series would have to be constructed from scratch. The enormous wealth of the car manufacturers enables them to achieve anything they want.

"Really, what they have to do is quite a simple device - write a cheque," he said. "It has always been suggested that some of the top Formula 1 teams have a long term loyalty to Formula 1, but you must bear in mind that in the past no team has actually been bound to the series until the very latest Concorde Agreement in 1997/98.

"They use to sign on each season so there is no doubt in my mind that if a series for example in the United States or Japan offered them [the teams] two or three times as much money, they would go. I don't have any doubts about that because if the money is there, they would do it. Formula 1 teams are professional racing teams who will go where the money is."

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