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Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 13:16 UK

F1 boss 'could not endorse' split

By Andrew Benson

Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone and Mosley disagree over the future of F1

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says he could not be part of any move by the teams to form a breakaway championship.

The teams are unhappy about the refusal of Max Mosley, president of governing body the FIA, to sign a new Concorde Agreement, which governs F1.

But Ecclestone told BBC Sport his Formula One Management company was contractually tied to the FIA.

"I told the teams, if they wish to break away, then do it, but we couldn't be part of it," Ecclestone said.

"What this has come down to is, if we don't get a Concorde Agreement, what is going to happen?" he added.

"[For the teams], it was simply, 'we don't have any links with the FIA, and if we want to do our own thing, we can always do our own thing'.

"But we couldn't [endorse that] even if we wanted to."

Ecclestone said it was imperative for the sport to secure a new Concorde Agreement "for stability".

I believe the teams should write the regulations with input from the FIA

Bernie Ecclestone
The dispute threatening to split F1 centres on a disagreement about how the rules are made, he said.

The old Concorde Agreement, which was in force from 1981 until 2007, gave the teams a central role in the rule-making process through an organisation called the F1 Commission, on which Ecclestone and Mosley both sat, along with representatives of the teams, promoters and sponsors.

It effectively wrote the rules, which were then rubber-stamped by the FIA World Council.

But the teams and Mosley have been unable to agree a new Concorde Agreement, which has left the FIA with absolute power over the rules.

"Early on, one of the things we agreed was that it would be in its previous form," Ecclestone said.

"With the F1 Commission as it was, no individual party had control.

"(Mosley) has proposed something completely different, which the teams wouldn't accept. I don't see any need for compromise. They're just bad solutions. We want to continue with the Concorde Agreement as it was in the past."

Ecclestone said Mosley did not want to sign a new contract "because he wants to do what he's done this year - say these are the regulations you race under if you want to race in the FIA world championship".

Ferrari's Felipe Massa leads the field at the start of the Turkish Grand Prix
Could the teams split from the FIA to set up a rival championship?
But the teams are still arguing over the exact nature of next year's rules, and Ecclestone said there was a risk some could quit the sport if Mosley tried to unilaterally impose rules they were not happy with.

"My argument has always been, if you let the teams sort things out between them, the big manufacturers aren't going to screw over the small teams," Ecclestone said.

"If it's in their hands to help them, they'll help them. They want them all to stay in business.

"But if the FIA puts a rule out that suits the four big teams, the other teams might go, and if it suits the lower-grade teams because it's cheaper, the big teams might go because they could say we don't want to be part of that, it's like GP2.

"I believe the teams should write the regulations with input from the FIA - providing they [the rules] conform to safety, and providing they [the teams] have been around for a long time and intend to stay a long time, and confirm they will, and confirm they will support the non-manufacturer teams."

He admitted there was a fundamental philosophical difference between himself and Mosley on this issue.

"We don't think [the FIA has the right to make the rules]," Ecclestone said.

"The police are like regulators, but they don't write the rules. They say, you did 40mph, it's a 30mph limit, you're nicked.

"I think the people who spend the money and participate are the people who should have much more input into making the regulations, and the FIA should control those things."

The FIA insists that it is consulting the teams on the regulations.

However, the sex scandal which has enveloped Mosley is making the situation more difficult.

Mosley has been under pressure since March, when the News of the World accused him of taking part in a "Nazi-style orgy" with prostitutes.

Mosley, the son of former British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, accepts he visited the prostitutes but denies there were Nazi overtones.

The 68-year-old has launched a legal action against the newspaper alleging defamation and invasion of privacy, with the case due to start on 7 July.

Mosley won a vote of confidence of the FIA members on 3 June, but it is known that senior executives in some of the big companies involved in F1 are uncomfortable with Mosley staying on in a situation in which they themselves would have been forced to resign.

Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley
Ecclestone and Mosley appear to be at loggerheads over F1
Ecclestone said the issue could raise particular problems for companies that had Jewish executives.

"A lot of companies have Jewish people on their boards," said Ecclestone, who this website incorrectly described as Jewish on Monday.

"And as the Jewish community in the first place said Max shouldn't be there, I sincerely hope this would not affect their participation in F1, whether now or in the future."

He said the dispute over F1 would not have come out into the open had it not been for the Mosley scandal.

"The problem is, Max has opened the door with what's happened to allow them to say these things," he said.

"Before the vote, people were protecting their position as they did not know what the result of the vote would be.

"Had he not received a vote for him to stay, no-one knew who was going to be the president, what they would have needed to do."

The FIA was unavailable for comment, but Mosley wrote a letter to the FIA member clubs last month setting out his position on the Concorde negotiations.

He said that the FIA had two main concerns - to ensure a fair financial package for the teams and the championship, and to guarantee the independence of the FIA as a regulatory body.

He wrote: "A new Concorde Agreement would give the F1 teams a greater say in the rule-making process, including various rights of veto.

"Because of its influence over the teams (which comes mainly from its ability to offer favours in and around the paddock), [Ecclestone] sees a Concorde Agreement as another way to exercise control over the sport.

"I do not believe we should concede. The sport and the commercial interests should be kept separate. The teams and the CRH [commercial rights holder, which is Ecclestone and the venture capital company CVC] should be consulted and listened to at all stages, but it must be the FIA, not the CRH or the teams, which decides the regulations.

"My refusal to concede on this has led to a difficult situation."

see also
Ecclestone cools breakaway talk
08 Jun 08 |  Formula One
Ferrari boss makes Mosley U-turn
05 Jun 08 |  Formula One
Mosley set to face vote on future
03 Jun 08 |  Formula One
Mosley sues over Nazi orgy claim
28 May 08 |  UK News
Mosley scandal 'has disgraced F1'
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One

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