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F1 teams lodge official EU complaint over 'unfair' structure

Force India and Sauber have lodged an official complaint to the European Union competitions commission regarding Formula 1's governance and payment structure

The midfield teams are citing financial bias by F1 owners CVC Capital Partners towards the five biggest teams - Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams.

A statement from Force India read: "Sahara Force India is one of two teams to have registered a complaint with the European Union questioning the governance of Formula 1 and showing that the system of dividing revenues and determining how Formula 1 rules are set is both unfair and unlawful.

What does the EU Commission's F1 interest mean?

"Due to the ongoing legal discussions, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

F1's skewed financial payments model was initially questioned by Anneliese Dodds, a UK member of the European parliament, following the demise of Caterham and Marussia, the latter eventually saved from administration and now racing again as Manor.

Dodds then directed her concerns to EU competitions commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who, while interested in the case, was unable to act without a formal complaint being made.

Force India and Sauber have now decided to stick their heads above the parapet, with one source suggesting the team's necks are well and truly on the line.

The main thrust of the complaint is the way F1's revenues are distributed, with the main five teams receiving additional monies last year totalling $249million, on top of prize money from the constructors' championship.

Details of 2014 payouts revealed

The extra revenue is known as premium payments, agreed by the five major teams by way of bilateral agreements in 2012, ahead of the expiration of the Concorde Agreement.

In 2014, Ferrari received a premium payment of $97million, $30million more than it received for finishing fourth in the constructors' championship.

In documents handed to the EU, reported by The Times, the complaint made by Force India and Sauber states: "These unfair side payments put the independent teams at a perpetual sporting and economic disadvantage and directly harm the sport.

"By locking in a permanent advantage for a select few teams, the sport has been gravely undermined.

"The beneficiaries have vastly more to spend on technology, development, research and equipment, creating an ever-wider performance gap and, effectively, pre-determining the outcome of the world championships.

"These unlawful practices hurt the sport, its participants and the many thousands of people in and around Formula 1, and the many millions of European fans."

In June, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared he was unfazed by the threat of an EU investigation, suggesting the likes of Force India and Sauber should never have signed their own contracts in the first place if they were so concerned.

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