Ferrari set to shun rival series
FERRARI, the most powerful team in Formula One, will today lead the sport into a new era that should put an end to threats of a breakaway motor racing series.
The famous Italian Scuderia have chosen pragmatism and the multimillion-pound bounty being offered by Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One's crafty promoter, over an uncertain future as part of an alliance with the four other leading carmakers.
The ten Formula One teams sit down in Monaco this morning for what is being described as a "summit meeting" with Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the sport's governing body, to hear his plans for the biggest reforms in the history of motor racing.
A total ban on the sophisticated electronics and high-tech gizmos that have come to define Formula One in terms of a PlayStation game instead of a sporting contest would mean a cut, worth tens of millions of pounds, in escalating costs and end the insane spending that is threatening to bankrupt the sport.
The stick of Mosley's reforms will be accompanied by the carrot of a huge cash windfall from Ecclestone's coffers if the teams go along with the plans. Ecclestone is ready to double their income immediately, putting an estimated £100m on the table.
The payments would have a huge impact on the smaller teams, with Minardi, the poorest team, receiving an extra £8m.
But the biggest beneficiaries will be Ferrari, already the biggest earners in the sport, who stand to bank almost £17m more this season alone if they shun the plans for a rival series orchestrated by the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC), the manufacturers' group including Renault, Ford (with Jaguar), Mercedes and BMW.
With Renault and Ford now wobbling and thought to be ready to line up alongside Ecclestone, BMW and Mercedes will be isolated as lone critics of Formula One's complex structure but unable to mount a credible challenge.
More than that, though, Mosley is ready to suggest that the teams abandon their traditional commercial deal, the Concorde Agreement that binds the ten squads together under one contract and makes them responsible for rule changes under a flawed voting system.
The present agreement runs out at the end of 2007 and Mosley will push the idea of moving to individual contracts, leaving the FIA to be the final arbiter of the sport's regulatory framework.
Where Ferrari goes, Formula One follows and the Scuderia have decided that they can gain greater financial security by going along with the cost-cutting reforms of Mosley and negotiating with Ecclestone what will inevitably be the most lucrative deal in the sport. © The Times, London