Friday April 6th, 2001
By Greg Buckle
Speculation that Formula One's top teams might form a rival circuit is a lot of talk and any such move is "a lifetime away", an Australian motor racing official said on Friday.
Grand Prix Corporation chief executive John Harnden said threats by Europe's major carmakers to set up a rival tour to the Formula One championship, in a bid to wrench control of the sport away from German media group Kirch and its partner EM.TV, would not come to fruition until at least 2008, if at all.
"When you look at Formula One, it's really going forward so strongly, all of the parties involved know that to disenfranchise that is going to be to everybody's detriment," Harnden told reporters.
He said breakaway competitions in other sports had been disasters.
"It's really hard to speculate (on whether fans would be loyal to a rival circuit) and I don't think in any way, shape or form it's something that's going to come to a reality," Harnden said.
"I think it's all about positioning and making certain they (the carmakers) were listened to and it would be wrong of both Kirch and Bernie Ecclestone to ignore them - and they won't."
The carmakers said on Wednesday they were threatening to launch a racing circuit to rival Formula One, a series of races that attract an estimated global TV audience of 300 million.
Television rights are at the centre of a complex battle between Kirch and EM.TV on the one hand, and the carmakers on the other.