Goeschel: Max and Bernie Need to Change

Motor racing's governing body and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone are going to have to make major changes to the way they run the sport if they are going to avoid a breakaway by the manufacturers

Goeschel: Max and Bernie Need to Change

That is the claim of BMW executive board member Burkhard Goeschel, who said in an interview with German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag that the manufacturers were not the party that needed to make compromise to prevent the new series from going ahead - and re-iterated that more money for teams was not the only concern.

Goeschel claimed that Ecclestone was going to have to relinquish his corporate governance of F1, while the FIA should no longer make the rules.

"I have respect for Ecclestone's earnings but every system needs reforms and Ecclestone's system is sitting on a thin branch," he said. "Every business receives new impulse from the exchange of board members. That makes the business competitive.

"The motorsport business is no exception. This realisation may be painful for Mr Ecclestone but is correct nevertheless. Some faces within our alliance may have changed but our message has always been the same: a reform has to take place - for the benefit of the sport and its fans."

Goeschel's comments about the FIA were made before he was aware of the latest rule changes put forward for next year - which is exactly the kind of situation he is unhappy about.

"The FIA should concentrate on its role as the sport's authority and supervising the fairness of motorsport," explained Goeschel. "Today the FIA wants to be the technical and sporting law giver, judge and police officer in one person. Other large sports are more democratically organised. We also want a separation of powers in Formula One. It cannot go on that those who finance the sport and send out cars and drivers are constantly surprised by expensive rule changes."

The Grand Prix Manufacturers Association have appointed marketing firm iSe to press ahead with their plans for the breakaway. They are currently speaking to race circuits, television stations and sponsors about the plans.

Ultimately, however, Goeschel believes that there will still only be one major Championship in 2008 - either a strong Formula One or a strong manufacturers' series.

"There will be only one series in which the best engines, the strongest teams and the best drivers are represented," he said.

"We (the manufacturers) stand together stronger than ever before. The alliance is stable...The most interesting teams are tied to us, we have the most interesting sponsors and we will also have the best drivers. We should bear that in mind.

"Without us Formula One is no longer top level sport. We hope that the current Formula One management will implement our goals which we are proposing to put into effect on behalf of the many millions of fans. If that doesn't happen we are now prepared to start a new race series which then becomes the top class.

"We are firm about making the top level of motorsport transparent. The current Formula One is not. We want a clear corporate management and control, an independent jurisdiction and an equitable distribution of the profits."


On the New Series:

"Now is the time for a new beginning. We have entrusted the marketing firm iSe with formulating a detailed framework. At the moment they are dealing with important partners like race circuits, television stations and sponsors. The organisational structure is in place." "There will be only one series in which the best engines, the strongest teams and the best drivers are represented."

On the alliance between the teams and manufacturers:

"We stand together stronger than ever before. The alliance is stable."

"The teams and manufacturers have been united for a long time on a series of common goals and principles. Above all, more transparency, an improved offering for motorsport fans and a regulation which genuinely lowers costs. The manufacturers invest each year over a billion euros in Formula 1. The most interesting teams are tied to us, we have the most interesting sponsors and we will also have the best drivers. We should bear that in mind. Without us Formula 1 is no longer top level sport. We hope that the current Formula 1 management will implement our goals which we are proposing to put into effect on behalf of the many millions of fans. If that doesn't happen we are now prepared to start a new race series which then becomes the top class."

"We are firm about making the top level of motorsport transparent. The current Formula 1 is not. We want a clear corporate management and control, an independent jurisdiction and an equitable distribution of the profits."

On the need to significantly increase team payments:

"The teams clearly have a right to a bigger share than that which has been distributed until now. But we are not dealing with Ecclestone, but with the banks. They are the main shareholder of Formula 1's Holding company SLEC. They must also be interested that their investment is secured for the future by bearing in mind the interests of all participants."

On negotiations with SLEC:

"I am convinced that there is much common ground. Now we have to act. The structure of SLEC is still non-transparent. We need to inspect the books and must know the special agreement between Ecclestone and the FIA. The banks want to earn money, we want to invest in motorsport as a platform for technology and marketing."

"We don't want to buy any shares. The current owners, together with us, can also make Formula 1 more attractive."

"Even when the banks sued Ecclestone everyone could talk to each other. The will is decisive. We are open."

On special treatment for particular teams:

"Fair sport for us means equal treatment of all teams. We won't give any backhanders but the monies will be distributed strictly according to sporting achievement."

"The door is wide open for Ferrari but to the same conditions as for all the others."

"Perspective is at least as important as tradition. Behind our Japanese colleagues lies a great potential. Honda has made an important mark this week with the takeover of BAR. In the long-term the participation of Toyota and Honda could be more important that that of Ferrari."

"We also need independent teams. A significant component of our business model is that these teams can also manage on a stable basis."

On the need to improve corporate governance:

"I have respect for Ecclestone's earnings but every system needs reforms and Ecclestone's system is sitting on a thin branch. Every business receives new impulse from the exchange of board members. That makes the business competitive. The motorsport business is no exception. This realisation may be painful for Mr Ecclestone but is correct nevertheless. Some faces within our alliance may have changed but our message has always been the same: a reform has to take place - for the benefit of the sport and its fans."

On the future governance of the sport:

"The FIA should concentrate on its role as the sport's authority and supervising the fairness of motorsport. Today the FIA wants to be the technical and sporting law giver, judge and police officer in one person. Other large sports are more democratically organised. We also want a separation of powers in Formula 1. It cannot go on that those who finance the sport and send out cars and drivers are constantly surprised by expensive rule changes."

On costs:

"The biggest drivers of costs were the FIA's rapid regulation changes. We the manufacturers stand on the racetrack in brutal competition. That also fascinates the motorsport fans. This should not be broken by a standardisation of the technology as the FIA plans. Decreasing costs and technology is no contradiction. We want to save with stable regulations, with a limitation on testing and a saving in the tyre sector."

On speculation that top teams' budgets could be cut by 90%:

"Then the race tracks would have to be rebuilt, and the tracks would only be allowed to go downhill. Then we would be running a soap-box derby."

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Author Jonathan Noble
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