FIA Warns Car Makers Over Rival Series

Formula One's governing body has warned major carmakers involved in the sport that it will not sanction a rival World Championship organised by them.

FIA Warns Car Makers Over Rival Series

Formula One's governing body has warned major carmakers involved in the sport that it will not sanction a rival World Championship organised by them.

Formula One sources said today that International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley had told team principals that the FIA would authorise a manufacturer series but not as a replacement for Formula One.

Promoter Bernie Ecclestone, the teams and banks controlling the sport's commercial rights after the collapse of Germany's Kirch media group had been due to discuss the existing Championship's future on December 11th.

Britain's Financial Times newspaper reported that Ecclestone had called off the meeting at Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart because the carmakers had not responded to proposals to give them greater control of Formula One.

The manufacturers have set up their own company, GPWC, to prepare for a rival Championship that could come into existence once the existing Concorde Agreement between the teams, commercial rights holders and FIA expires in 2007.

The carmakers already control or are heavily involved in the majority of the 10 teams in the series: FIAT own Ferrari, BMW are partners of Williams, Mercedes have a stake in McLaren, Renault have their own team as does Toyota, while Honda are involved with British American Racing. Ford own Jaguar but also provide engines to Jordan and Minardi, while the Swiss-based Sauber team use Ferrari power.

Money Matters

Banks Beyerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers control 75 percent of Formula One holding company SLEC, originally sold by Ecclestone to EM.TV and then Kirch, and are seeking to sell a stake to the carmakers.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said last week that the teams needed more say in running the sport rather than receiving just 47 percent of the television revenue as at present.

"The overall structure of the sport has to change," he said. "The present power balance is not 100 percent correct. One era of F1 is over and it needs to be taken into the future by a very professional management company."

The Financial Times said DaimlerChrysler boss Juergen Hubbert, who leads the GPWC, "leads a faction which believes it can find an independent regulator, bypassing the FIA, for the alternative championship."

Formula One is going through tough times, with the Prost team collapsing at the start of the year and Arrows following them out of the championship at the end.

Sponsors have pulled out, with both Jordan and Minardi seeking title backers for next season and even the major teams losing some important partners, and others are nervous about the sport's future.

The Financial Times said it cost World Champions Ferrari some $20 million per race last season and two leading teams each used more than 400 engines during the course of the Championship.

Team bosses met at London's Heathrow airport on Wednesday to discuss ways of cutting costs but no major measures are likely to be introduced until 2005.

The FIA has already announced important changes to the qualifying format and points structure for next season in an effort to revive interest in the championship in the face of dwindling television viewing figures.

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