F1 Future Set for December Showdown

Discussions over the future of Formula One will be decided by the end of the year and could see the top manufacturers committing to a breakaway series if their commercial demands are not met by Christmas.

F1 Future Set for December Showdown

Discussions over the future of Formula One will be decided by the end of the year and could see the top manufacturers committing to a breakaway series if their commercial demands are not met by Christmas.

Five of the sport's leading players - Ferrari, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Renault and Ford - have promised to set up the 'Grand Prix World Championship' if they cannot negotiate themselves a greater slice of Formula One revenue.

Their plans to buy 75 percent of the sport's commercial rights from the current owners, a consortium of Bayerische Landesbank, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan, have stalled after the banks failed to respond to a letter sent last month.

"If the banks are unable to come with a decent proposal at the end of the year then why would they do so in January, February, March or whenever," a spokesman for the GPWC told Atlas F1.

"There was due to be a meeting after Monza but we replied to a letter from the banks and we haven't heard anything back from them. We will have to wait on their response. At this time of negotiations the stakes do not change.

"It is like a football game: There is 90 minutes of play and close to the end of the game the atmosphere changes but the rules stay the same."

The negotiations have become protracted because the value of the shares is significantly less now than it was when the banks took control of them. But the GPWC are confident an agreement can be met by the end of next month.

Bernie Ecclestone's Bambino trust, which owns the other 25 percent of the shares, are being kept informed and occasionally brought into the ongoing discussions.

But sources close to the sport's supremo said he would not be interested in making a purchase and explained: "Bernie would love to be the only guy in the ring but he won't buy the shares because he knows how much they are worth."

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