Saturday April 14th, 2001
Formula One team chiefs remained tight-lipped on Saturday after a long Friday meeting with the sport's ring-master Bernie Ecclestone to discuss a threatened breakaway series planned by Europe's car-makers.
The meeting took place in a hospitality motorhome in the paddock at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in advance of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, the first race of the 2001 season to take place in Europe.
Ecclestone had been reluctant to talk even briefly on Friday about any of the issues affecting the future of the sport he has built up during the last 25 years.
Looking tired and careworn, he made his first appearance at an event this year on Friday when he arrived in the paddock. He missed all three of the season-opening 'flyaway' races in Australia, Malaysia and Brazil.
"I don't want to say anything," he said, when asked about the controversy caused by the recent statement of the European Car Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).
The association had claimed it was to launch a single-seater series to rival Formula One after fears intensified that German media mogul Leo Kirch, having taken control of the companies which run the sport's commercial affairs, might concentrate its television coverage of the sport in pay-per-view.
Friday evening's meeting, over dinner, included McLaren boss Ron Dennis, Jaguar chief Bobby Rahal, Benetton-Renault chief Flavio Briatore, BAR's Craig Pollock and others in a group which close observers said totalled about 12.
Williams chief Frank Williams left the paddock early in the evening.