Formula One's smaller teams wary of hidden agenda

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 09, 2014 6:42 PM

By Alan Baldwin

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Formula One's financially struggling smaller teams fear there could be an "agenda" to end their constructor status and turn them into mere operators of cars provided by bigger rivals.

"Looking at the proposals which have been made, we have to believe there is some agenda here," Sauber principal Monisha Kaltenborn told reporters after Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix.

"When ideas are offered to us of a year-old chassis or engines which maybe are a different specification or whatever, a different series, there must be an agenda," she said.

"Those ideas are ideas. But that tells you where it is going...the more these ideas are coming up, the more we three get the feeling that maybe some people don’t want us to be around and maybe the sport is supposed to be changed in a very different way."

The three -- Sauber, Force India and Lotus -- have all been calling for the distribution of revenues to be made fairer to guarantee them a 'base payment' that would help them to continue competing.

However talks with commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone at Interlagos produced no agreement, with the 84-year-old Briton holding out little hope of one.

"We are giving these teams collectively $900 million and that’s enough," he told reporters.

Force India principal Vijay Mallya had said on Saturday that Ecclestone had agreed to talk to commercial rights holders CVC in London next Tuesday to discuss the situation.

However, on a Sunday of shifting positions, Ecclestone said he would be talking to CVC co-chairman Donald Mackenzie about "something completely different".

Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley wondered whether the end goal was to turn Formula One into a constructor and a customer series.

"The clear direction we are getting is that there is a desire to have five constructor teams and five customer teams," he said.

Sunday's race had only nine teams after Marussia folded and Caterham, in administration, remained absent while they try and raise enough cash to compete in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 23.

Ecclestone has made clear that if they do not race then, they are out of the championship.

Both Fernley and Kaltenborn said their teams would fight on.

"The last few weeks have exposed what the gameplan is. We just want to make sure that we stay a constructor and we will work hard to do that and stay competitive," said Fernley.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Gene Cherry)