BBC BLOGS - Andrew Benson
« Previous | Main | Next »

F1 on verge of landmark peace deal

Post categories:

Andrew Benson | 16:28 UK time, Thursday, 23 July 2009

Formula 1 is agonisingly close to an agreement that will end the political conflict besetting the sport this year - and insiders expect a deal to be signed as soon as the end of this week.

The F1 teams are in the final stages of negotiations on the various documents that need to be finalised to usher in a new era of peace, securing all the interested parties to the sport until the end of 2012 under a new legal and financial agreement.

Sources say they expect a new version of the Concorde Agreement - the document that binds the teams, governing body the FIA and the sport's commercial rights holders together and defines the relationship between them - to be signed by the end of this weekend here at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Only small details remain to be resolved, and these are mainly in one specific area, albeit one that has been at the centre of the once-bitter rows this season.


That is what has become known as the "resource restriction", which is the new name for what FIA president Max Mosley had originally intended to be a £40m budget cap.

The eight teams who threatened to split from F1 and set up a breakaway championship as a result of their concerns over that and other issues - particularly what they saw as Mosley's autocratic and arbitrary manner of governing F1 - have forced an abandonment of a set maximum spend.

Those teams, represented by umbrella group the F1 Teams' Association (Fota), also want to reduce spending dramatically, but to do so by restricting ways in which teams can do research and other work. To get all parties signed up to F1 post-2009, though, the Fota teams had to reach an agreement with the five teams that submitted unconditional entries to next year's championship under the now-abandoned budget cap - current teams Williams and Force India and new outfits Campos, USF1 and Manor.

Williams, in particular, have a number of "issues" with the resource restriction plan put forward by Fota.

As reported by BBC Sport over the German Grand Prix weekend, though, the ultimate power lies with Fota, which is working closely together with F1's commercial rights holders, the venture capital group CVC Capital Partners, to secure a new deal on the future of the sport.

CVC, which has spent billions on F1 but is also heavily in debt, feared for its investment as a result of the breakaway threat, and has recognised that F1 is effectively the top teams and drivers, regardless of whether the series they race in is actually called the FIA Formula 1 world championship.

As one team boss told me: "That (CVC and Fota) is the championship."

In other words, whatever Fota and CVC do will be the world's premier motor racing championship next year, regardless of whether the FIA sign up or Williams choose to take part.

Now that CVC has finalised terms with Fota, they are, in the interests of harmony, trying to satisfy the demands of other teams, such as Williams, but ultimately are unlikely to give on them all.

At which point Williams - or anyone else in their position - will effectively be told: "We understand your concerns, some will be addressed, some won't. That's how it is. Now sign up or go and race somewhere else."

And although there is a bit of 11th-hour brinksmanship going on, ultimately they will have to sign. And the same goes for the FIA.

Another area of particular focus is the shape of the calendar.

The Fota teams that are owned or part-owned by road-car manufacturers - Ferrari (Fiat), McLaren (Mercedes), Renault, BMW and Toyota - are demanding guarantees that there will be races in important markets, such as the USA and Germany.

The current trend has been away from such countries, because they either unable or unwilling to pay the race fees demanded by F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.

He has pursued races in countries that will pay his price because they want to use a grand prix as a tool to boost their global image - places such as Malaysia, Turkey, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. But to major car companies these are insignificant markets - and they are determined to see races that are important to them guaranteed places on the calendar.

It is a complicated series of negotiations, because five different documents, all of which are complex and inter-related, have to be agreed at the same time. Those documents are: the Concorde Agreement; the "resource restriction" agreement; the agreement between CVC and Fota, which will also almost certainly include the FIA, unless there actually is going to be a breakaway, which looks unlikely; and the sporting and technical regulations.

In theory, all the documents should be signed at the same time by all parties - certainly the Fota teams will not sign anything that the FIA has not already signed because they do not trust Mosley not to try something on if they do.

But it seems a concurrent signing might not be what happens. One source - which I cannot verify - says Campos have already signed and that - less likely on the face of it - so has one Fota team.

There is also talk that Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are negotiating special, favourable deals of their own because of their historic value to F1 - much as the most successful teams received more money under the previous Concorde Agreement.

As ever, it is a complex issue, but behind all the political to-ing and fro-ing, most insiders seem agreed on one thing - that everything should be finalised by the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend. Although this has gone on so long that no-one would be surprised if that date slipped a bit yet again.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great article, and very believable. I hope it all comes off - or failing that I hope FOTA and CVC set up a new series without the FIA.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tell you what, I'd have preferred that it all break up and let the chips fall where they may... I'd still only watch the competition with the major teams on it, though. This uneasy marriage is going to end in another messy separation, unless the deals are of longer duration than 1-2 years.
    Well, let's wait and watch. If it's on the day of the Hungarian GP, it's going to be my b'day too!

  • Comment number 3.

    still it looks like the animals are running the zoo.
    whats the point of a governing body that has no power it makes having them as just lip service to looking like fair racing rather than what it seems to be becoming and that sadly is not competitive motor sport.
    as viewers all we can do is watch and hope but if things go to far i like many viewers may well switch off or find another motor sport to watch.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am thankful that this much progress has been made since the politically-strewn British Grand Prix weekend, and I seriously hope a deal can be made at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    And when I say "deal", I mean, that's it. No "signing a few pieces of paper and then Mosley makes a remark about FOTA which sets the whole war off again". It needs to be FINAL.

    Then it will seem like paradise! In an ideal world, there can only be one championship, and that is Formula One, and that should always be the pinnacle of motorsport - any split, now or in the future, will be disastrous. So this is all good news, and I expect most F1 fans will agree.

    But fingers will only be uncrossed a couple of months after the "peace deal", so everyone is sure it won't kick off again.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good article Andrew - well explained.

    The one bit i really hope comes true are that there will be more races in countires with a motorsport heritage and less in the Middle East and Asia.

    For me, F1 should race where it is popular. Of the Asian Countries, Japan should definetly have a race with their rich motorsport heritage. The US should have one, a couple in South America, one in Oz, and the rest in Western Europe.

    I'm a bit sick of the comments over the years regarding how this 'new' track is a 'Great Facility' - which basically means the corperate mob don't have to que too long for their prawn sandwiches in a country that isn't remotely bothered about motorsport. Can't say i blame them in one sense.. half of these flat, featureless tracks are so boring to watch cars on i'd rather que for a sandwich. (and don't tell me Tilke doesn't have a lot to work with.. i mean he could even plant a few trees to make things look interesting and create the odd blind corner)

    Sure, there's a place for business in F1, without that, it would die, but i want to get back to classic circuits and packed out grandstands with passionate fans. Take the atmosphere that was evident to the TV audience when watching Spain, Australia, Germany and the UK this year.

    I don't dislike Bernie, he's done a lot for the sport and made it so much more proffessional, and i know that he did a bit of club racing in the early days before becoming a team manager and then commercial rights holder, but this current situation of F1 having to go to boring empty tracks is his doing and its purely because he's been tempted too much by the cash instead of keeping his feet on the ground and protecting the heritage and tradition of the sport.
    (though i'm still mad at him for ripping up the great Hockenheim).

    Anyway.. i'm ranting now.. what was this artical about again..

  • Comment number 6.

    I love this piece of news, however, i still feel that unless the FIA is run by a non F1 team director, i.e. Jean Todt, as he has been mooted for the job by Max, there cannot be stability within F1. Unfortunately, the FIA has favoured Ferrari, and that has been confirmed by Bernie and Max's comments over the last few years, along with Ferrari's 'extra special deal' With the FIA/FOM.

    I would suggest that the process to elect an FIA President should be decided by the fans, as well as the teams and drivers, not anyone within the FIA/FOM. Max Mosely cannot be allowed to give an opinion as to whom should replace him. His comments should not be allowed, as he is clearly trying to influence the board.

    If that is not applicable, at least their should be elected a Formula One Fans Association (FOFA), so that we can all, as fans have a say in what happens. After all, we are the ones that watch the damn sport, so why should we not have a say in how it runs. Yes we have no financial involvment, but we watch the sport and love it.

    Oh and Bernie the medals idea is ridiculous; F1 is not an olympic sport, its a team sport. If you want to make it a medals system, then apply to the olympic commity, so we can have a 100 meters F1 race. Otherwise, stop your stupid idea, and realise that, as with all other motorsport series, pint win prizes; It's about who wins over a season, not who wins more races. Look at the WTCC, BTCC, WSBK, BSBK, and all other 'normal' motorsport formula.

    You make a joke of F1 with your ideas! You should leabe your post as well!

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks Andy, interesting stuff.

    My feeling is that whilst CVC and FOTA may technically be the two most influential groups in this most wheelie and dealy of shenanigans, no fans want to see a championship with huge dollops of bias against the new and smaller teams.

    I think people need to make more of a distinction between the FIA and soon to be ex pres. Max Mosley - Whilst you may disagree with Mosley, the FIA is there as a sort of necessary evil. There has to be some independant overseeing of F1 or it would cease to be a true sport. Self regulation by the teams makes no sense to me, they are supposed to be competitors after all.

    I think the FIA as a whole should be listened to and respected a bit more, granted it can't just dictate new rules willy nilly but we've come this far and F1 is as popular as ever. If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it... maybe just patch it up a bit with some carbotanium.

  • Comment number 8.


    Yes the FIA should be listened to, but from a neuatral point of view. Both the FIA and FOM have a bias toward Ferrari, that is a fact. We should all have a Formula One Fans Association, which should be involved with all the appointment process's.

    It would allow for a more equal process.

  • Comment number 9.

    number 5 your saying f1 should race where it is popula but it is not popular in the US so your post is a bit of contradiction and shows a lack of knowledge that has been fairly evident on these boards over the past few months

  • Comment number 10.

  • Comment number 11.

    As long as the documents say the FIA can't do whatever it wants then it will work.

  • Comment number 12.

    "We should all have a Formula One Fans Association, which should be involved with all the appointment process's."

    Two points to make here:

    1) In no sport that I can think of, do the fans get a say in the running of, or a say in the appointment of the people who run it. You're living in cloud cuckoo land. That and the fact that F1 is clearly money orientated these days, so unless you're putting a few hundred million dollars in and calling yourself a sponsor, you have no power, no say, no nothing. What makes you think any different? What makes you think that the people already in charge want to give some of their power up to YOU? You're nuts, sir.

    2) F1 needs another "association" of people meddling with it like it needs a hole in the head. There are already enough groups of people and associations with their fingers in the pie. I say leave them to it, they'll work it out in the end, and if they dont, there's nothing a fans association could realistically do about it anyway, so what would be the point?

  • Comment number 13.

    Good blog, hope things finally get sorted. Although I feel less attached to the venues in traditional F1 countries, I definately would like more exciting tracks with overtaking possibilities, many F1s are decided in qualifying. As I live in Abu Dhabi I wonder what would happen if F1 pulled out and left them here with all their billions spent and no F1 - at least the lawyers would get rich.

  • Comment number 14.


  • Comment number 15.

    Power mad!
    The sooner Howett, Montezemolo and Briatore retire the better, those 3 have turned F1, and motor sport in general, away from racing and racing teams and toward accountants and corporate boredom.

    It seems Sir Frank Williams is the only racer left.

    F1 was so much better without the manufacturer teams.

  • Comment number 16.

    Fingers crossed that this farce will soon be behind us. I just hope that in 2011 they sort out what needs sorting out, so we don't have to put with this ridiculousness in 2012!

  • Comment number 17.

    Number 9

    the post from number 5 was a very good article with good knoweledge. Yes nascar and other motorsport is more popular in USA, but not to have a formula 1 grand prix in USA is missing out on financial benfits for the FOTA teams. On top of this F1 in USA was also growing last time the grand prix were held there.

    What number 5 said in his article makes complete sense, except for having 2 grand prix in south america...i think just a brazilian grand prix would suffice.

    to finish number 9 stop complaining about other peoples comments for no reason just to try and make yourself look good. try and add soemthing to the discussion instead.

  • Comment number 18.

    Fans having a say in the running of F1 would be a bad idea because in many cases what fans want or would like to see isn't necisarily good for F1 as a whole.

    Also to a point the teams running F1 isn't that good an idea either. In the American CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) series the teams had a lot of say in the running of things & it didn't work. By some reports each team was always trying to push things through that suited there own needs rather than what would have been good for the series as a whole. Mistakes were made that led the series down the wrong path & ultimately into bankrupcy in 2003.

    Teams should indeed have a say but shoudn't have ultimate control. If it were down to the teams I suspect we never would have gotten rid of the Electronic aids such as Traction Control which the manufacturer's especially didn't want banned.

  • Comment number 19.

    I agree I think fans should have some input in to the sport. Fans do put £100m's by buying tickets and merchandising etc and with out any fans there would be no sponsors and no sport but I also agree that F1 does not need another group trying to rule. Why cant either Fota or the FIA have fan opinion polls asking our input then they can discuss and implement what they think would improve the sport. The problem would be that the millions of fans all have different ideas and want different things for the sport, For example I think F1 needs to get back to on the track racing on away from the strategy racing by fuel loads and fuel stops and that F1 needs to be at historical tracks with sold out crowds and not to places just because they pay more. I am not saying my ideas are right they are just my ideas. What are other peoples ideas?

  • Comment number 20.

    Number 9 Copcop2.

    I'd say i have a decent knowledge of F1 having watched it regularly for around 25 years.

    My comment about the US was more in the category of Countries with a Motorsport Heritage rather than popular. True, the US isn't too keen on F1 at the moment, but they certainly have a Motorsport Heritage (Unless my knowledge has let me down again..) and there's been a US Grand Prix on and off for a few Decades going back to Watkins Glen and before.

    As comment 17 rightly implies, F1 needs to keep a foot in the door in the US for the sponsors. FOTA are obviously implying the same as stated in Andrews article, thats why i'd have a GP in the US at the expense of some of the Middle Eastern and Asian GP's (Japan excluded).

    As for lack of knowledge on these boards, i've seen many posts which indicate that most people who post on here have a good understanding of the sport.

    Anyway, i'll take your comments with a pinch of salt as being a slight wind up and thank the BBC again for opening up these boards to lively debate. Thats what its all about.


  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Please can the moderators contact me to explain why my above comment was removed. Thank you.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.