F1 chief Ecclestone claims major progress in commercial talks
Ecclestone has said the majority of the championship’s teams have reached an agreement to continue racing after the current Concorde Agreement expires at the end of this season.
The confidential Agreement between Ecclestone’s Formula One Management (FOM) and the teams divides up the commercial revenues of the sport, including television rights and prize money. Ecclestone said in a statement: “I am very pleased to announce that we have reached commercial agreements with the majority of the current Formula One teams, including Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull Racing, about the terms on which they will continue competing in Formula One after the current Concorde Agreement expires at the end of this year.”
Ecclestone’s comments come a week after Red Bull Racing and Ferrari said talks over a new Concorde Agreement were progressing well amid reports that the two teams could secure a key role in the future of the sport. Reports had suggested that Ferrari and Red Bull were close to agreeing favourable financial terms with Ecclestone which could hand Ferrari shares in the sport and both outfits a seat on the Formula One board.
Ferrari and Red Bull last year quit the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) in a bid to negotiate their own terms with FOM. FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh, who is team principal of McLaren, has defended the decision of FOTA members to agree unilaterally to the commercial terms offered by Ecclestone, after originally making a strong case for teams to stick together on the subject. “The majority of the teams are finding an agreement and you can either stick your head in the sand or say let's find an agreement,” said Whitmarsh when asked about the reasons behind McLaren's decision to agree a deal. “We're having constructive dialogue now, which we weren't having a few weeks ago.”
Regarding Ecclestone’s decision to go public on the negotiations, Whitmarsh stated it could be interpreted as a desire by the F1 chief to illustrate the progress being made. “I think Bernie wants to deliver a positive news message for F1,” he said, according to Autosport. “At the moment the fact that we're probably not in the middle of a war with each other is good news for Formula One.”
Whitmarsh added: “There are positives clearly, we've had two great championships and I think we'll have another, and that entertainment counts for a lot. We have to try a lot to attack costs in Formula One, but we still have a lot of work to do and I believe we still today have a number of teams here that don't have a viable long-term business model. We have to continue to work together to make sure we have sustainable business models for the majority of the teams in Formula One.”