Thursday February 8th, 2001
Max Mosley, the president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), believes that if five leading car manufacturers secure a share in Formula One the sport will benefit immensely.
Ford, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Renault and Fiat are all keen to purchase a share of the SLEC company, the family trust through which Bernie Ecclestone holds the reins of power for the sport, according to reports.
The five manufacturers want to protect their interests in the future of Formula One rather than have a say in the day-to-day running and Mosley believes they will stabilise the sport.
"I think it would be a good thing if they came in," Mosley said. "The way that it has been talked about at the moment is a possible acquisition of a substantial shareholding in Bernie Ecclestone's company. It would stabilise the sport.
"You get these big companies in, or in on the long-term with a lot of money invested, and I don't think it would have much actual influence.
"The structures are such that, whoever controls Bernie's company, will have practically no say in the running of the sport because they just have one vote in 26 on the Formula One Commission."
Mosley said the votes of individual teams would remain unchanged and added that the vote of the group of manufacturers would be more concerned with commercial aspects rather than the running of the sport.
"The teams have a lot more votes, and of course there could be influence through them," Mosley added. "But I think we have checks and balances in Formula One which would mean that the manufacturers would be interested in the commercial exploitation rather than in how the sport is actually run.
"Obviously, we would listen to them, like we do listen to Bernie, if it came to that, but that is a very different thing from massive influence. I believe that if they do come in it won't do any harm. I think it will do good."
The five car manufacturers are also reported to be ready to step in as a replacement for Ecclestone if the British businessman fails to make a £40 million (pounds) initial payment for the broadcasting and commercial rights to F1.
Ecclestone had agreed a 100-year contract extension for the rights but this week Mosley indicated that if the first payment is not made before the FIA General Assembly on March 22 the rights could be offered elsewhere.