May 15 (GMM/Inautonews.com) The news filtering out from Thursday’s landmark meeting of the Strategy Group is not encouraging.
Amid the sport’s reported problems and widespread calls for change, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was not confident as the stakeholders headed for his facility at the Biggin Hill airport in England.
“We will spend four or five hours deciding the date for the next meeting,” Italy’s Autosprint quotes the 84-year-old as sardonically predicting.
Indeed, The Times newspaper says the Strategy Group has become renowned for its “inaction and self-interest”.
Actually, Thursday’s meeting – involving the most powerful teams as well as FIA president Jean Todt and CVC chairman Donald Mackenzie – took 6 hours.
And the next sitting has been scheduled for June.
As for Thursday’s outcome, the first unofficial reports were of “constructive” talks.
As expected, however, it is understood that the teams could not unanimously agree to increase this year’s engine allocation from 4 to 5 ‘power units’ per driver.
But the bigger issue was finding a roadmap for the future.
Many stakeholders were hoping for a sharp change of direction, but it appears the only major agreement was the green-light for so-called ‘customer cars’ in future.
That will be little comfort to the struggling outfits like Force India, Sauber and Lotus, who were crying out for a change to the patently inequitable distribution of the almost billion dollars in commercial revenue.
As The Times reported after Thursday’s meeting, “McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes all refused to budge on redistributing prize money skewed in their favour”.
Insiders say the FIA intends to issue a press release on Friday outlining measures to improve the show, while the Telegraph says it may also include “modest proposals for cost-cutting”.
So while the small teams might be disappointed by Thursday’s events, it is expected Red Bull is also unhappy that F1 did not turn a radical corner.
Told that the energy drink company has committed to the sport contractually until 2020, Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper: “Yes, but not to a formula one in this form.”
“There is a wise phrase in sporting law,” the Austrian added. “‘For the good of the sport, any decision is possible’. No matter what the Strategy Group decides.
“Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt know that too. We can only hope that sense prevails,” said Marko.