Saturday May 26th, 2001
A rival series to Formula One is unlikely to happen although leading car makers have the resources and cannot be underestimated, International Automobile Federation (FIA) president Max Mosley said on Saturday.
"I think that in the end we will see an arrangement that suits everybody," he told a news conference at the Monaco Grand Prix. "Good sense will prevail and there will be a deal."
Mosley said the FIA would be prepared to authorise any rival championship on the same terms as the existing one. But he added that he would be surprised if that happened. "You have three groups of people," he said.
"You have Bernie (Ecclestone) and his family trust, you have Kirch which is a major German media group and of course the manufacturers. The thing they all have in common is that they have been enormously successful in business and it is in the end a business question."
Mosley said the three groups involved were all "capable of seeing as we are all capable of seeing that what you need is one championship with everybody present.
"I think that the overwhelming probability is that they will between them reach a deal which reflects the importance of each element in the deal," he said.
"I would be very surprised if that doesn't happen. I would be disappointed but it is something over which the FIA has very little influence because we are not any longer concerned with the commercial elements of the Formula One World Championship."
Leading carmakers, some of whom have bought Formula One teams while others are deeply involved as engine suppliers and partners, firmed up plans last week to launch a rival series. The manufacturers who own Formula One teams other than Fiat are Renault, owners of Benetton, and Ford with Jaguar. BMW are partners to Williams while DaimlerChrysler, who own Mercedes, are partners with McLaren.
"One shouldn't underestimate the ability of the major manufacturers," said Mosley. "If they want to do something of this kind, they have enormous resources. It's done by the simple device of writing a cheque."
The car giants fear the purchase by Germany's Kirch group and media company EM.TV of 75 percent of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone's holding company SLEC could eventually lead to coverage of the sport being limited to pay television.
SLEC was recently granted a 100-year extension of Formula One's commercial rights from 2011 for a fee of $313.6 million. Mosley defended that deal and said the proceeds would be used to set up a charitable FIA foundation to work for motoring safety and road safety in general.
He said the deal was a good one for the FIA, since $300 million now was worth the equivalent to $500 million when the rights actually started, and avoided future legal argument.
"One has to be very careful about the value of rights," said the Briton, pointing to the difficulties suffered recently by world soccer's governing body FIFA. "It's one thing to talk about these sums, its another thing to actually get them.
"Nobody, and I can say this more openly now than I ever could in the past, nobody really knows who has what rights to which parts of the championship.
"How much of the rights belong to the teams, how much belongs to Bernie or his companies because he built the thing up from what it was to what it is?. How much belonged to the FIA because they were the original proprietors? If you had a big argument about it you might find, if you were the FIA, that you don't own as much as you think you own."