Paddock ‘nervous’ as F1 politics returns – Boullier image

(Inautonews.com/GMM) After a prolonged period of relative peace and unity, the spectre of power politics is returning to the formula one paddock.

It emerges that the media reports about ‘big four’ Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes planning a Stuttgart meeting next weekend surprised some other major teams, including Renault.

A regular FOTA meeting will take place this weekend at Istanbul Park, raising the suggestion that the formerly ‘secret’ meeting is to discuss possibly joining the News Corp/Exor consortium that is considering a bid for the sport’s commercial rights.

Subsequent media reports back the theory, including the detail that News Corp officials will also be at the German summit.

“I think everybody is a bit nervous now,” admitted Renault team boss Eric Boullier.

At the same time, McLaren’s executive chairman emerged in an interview with Bloomberg urging caution that, prominently alongside Rupert Murdoch’s interest in buying F1, is the Ferrari-linked major Fiat shareholder Exor.

Ron Dennis warned of a “conflict of interest” and said it would be like “someone who owns a football team wishing to invest in the league”.

Italy’s Autosprint, meanwhile, said that despite F1 being valued much lower, the buying price of EUR 8 billion could stir CVC’s interest in agreeing to sell.

But Dennis said he is worried about Murdoch’s famous attitude about free media content, should he become the new F1 owner.

“We generate revenue from the surface of the racing car,” he said. “The teams would have to be heavily persuaded to support anything that wouldn’t see that free-to-air (television) element of grand prix racing maintained.”