Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 48

FEATURES This exaggerated urge for wealth and omnipotence has made the Brit raise entrance fees for new tracks to ridiculous spheres, which meant moving to locations that could afford them – i.e. mostly autocratic regimes looking for prestige – and at the same time whittle down traditional racing venues. Moreover, it has made participating in the championship for teams so expensive that all outfits which had entered the grid only in 2010 are gone again. In addition, teams with a long-standing tradition like Sauber or Lotus/Renault are financially stricken. Locked out The sport’s all-powerful Svengali stood down from Delta Topco, the board consisting of F1’s shareholders, before going on trial for bribery in Munich earlier this year. After handing over a £60 million settlement in August, he announced his return to the board as the charges against him had been dropped. However, several shareholders were embarrassed when the judge described him as an “unreliable witness” and the board refused to reinstate him. Later Ecclestone rubbished such claims. “The agreement was, when this trial started, I agreed to stand down from the board while the trial was on. Afterwards, it’s business as usual.” Either way, it seems, the 84-year-old no longer has carte blanche to act as he wishes. Also on the teams’ side, the number of his disciples is diminishing. Unhappy about the vastly uneven distribution of income shares among the starting teams, Force India owner Vijay Mallya was even prepared to launch the first strike in the sport since Niki Lauda and Didier Pironi had locked all the drivers in at Kyalami protesting against the introduced super license regulations. A sinking ship? So who actually runs the sport? As it seems no one really. Bernie could not fight off a crisis that had been coming for more than two years, and neither could FIA President Jean Todt. The casual observer may believe Formula 1 is owned by the FIA, after all, it is known as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. But actually, a European Commission anti-trust investigation in 2001 ruled that the governance and commercial management of the series had to be separated. So the FIA licensed the commercial rights to Delta Topco for a period of 100 years in exchange for a one-time payment of USD 313.6 million. In 2005, CVC Capital bought controlling interest in Delta Topco, and consequently, was also granted the F1 commercial rights. The FIA has recently taken possession of 45,819,734 shares in Delta Topco, 48 thepaddockmagazine.com