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Ecclestone defends Ferrari bonus

NEWS STORY
19/03/2017

Bernie Ecclestone has defended the £80m 'historic' bonus payment to Ferrari which is now under threat.

Despite the fact that Ferrari won only three Grands Prix in 2015, the Italian outfit walked away with more prize money than world champions Mercedes... and when the 2016 figures are revealed it is likely that the Maranello marque will remain the best rewarded even though it never once made it to the top step of the podium.

The reason for this is due to a complicated series of deals put together by Bernie Ecclestone which sees some teams pick up special bonuses in addition to their 'regular' prize money.

F1's eleven teams received £732.7m ($903.8m) of prize money in 2015, according to the sport's accounts, and while the eleventh-placed team Manor received next to nothing, Ferrari took home an estimated £139m ($172m) even though it hasn't won the constructors' championship since 2008.

Ferrari gets at least £24.3m ($30m) annually based on the number of races it won in the four seasons prior to 2012, which is when the scheme was introduced, in addition to a minimum of £50.4m ($62.2m) every year for being F1's longest-standing team.

Indeed, of the 945 Grands Prix that have formed the Formula One World Championship since 1950, Ferrari has missed just 16 races... usually through tantrums pulled by team founder Enzo Ferrari.

At a time Chase Carey has admitted that in a bid to level the playing field the bonus - and those handed to the likes of Red Bull and Williams - may be scrapped.

Bernie Ecclestone however, has defended the bonus payment saying that a time CVC was preparing to take F1 to the stock market, guarantees were needed that would get the teams to commit to the future of F1.

"Why did it happen? It's very simple," he told Sky Sports News. "CVC, at that time, wanted to have a public offering. We wanted to make sure before they went into the market that we could guarantee the teams would be there. When we looked at all the teams to see who could actually commit to 2020, and when they committed would be there, because a lot of the teams say 'we'll sign it', but would sign anything and then go out of business the next week. It wouldn't have made any difference.

"We got a real commitment right from the top of the big companies," he admits, "so they needed to be rewarded for making their long term commitment. They said 'we need something for that' and quite rightly so. And that's what happened."

The current bonus system remains in place until 2020 when the current Concorde Agreement runs out, and already Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne has warned that it needs clarity on the issue.

Recently, Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda both committed to Mercedes until 2020, leading to fears that the German manufacturer might feel it has done enough by that point.

Asked if he fears the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes could walk away from the sport, Ecclestone admits: "Someone told me the other day that since Formula 1 started we've had more than 70 teams, which I didn't believe. But knowing the person that told me, it must be true.

"Nothing's forever, so you don't know," he continues. "If someone upsets Ferrari they could stop. Probably Mercedes will win another couple of championships, then maybe they'll say 'we've seen it and done it'."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 20/03/2017 7:28

"It's up to FIA to organise a Championship which attracts both competitors and audiences. It would then be Liberty's job to market the races to us. Bernie's constant interference & fiddling has got us to where we are today. If Ferrari ex-perambulates its toys because it doesn't get a "bonus", so be it.

Payments to teams should be equitable (NOT necessarily equal!). It seems much more logical to pay extra to smaller teams helping them buy engines etc. from the big boys, than to subsidise mega-corporations like Renault, Mercedes & Fiat whose parent companies pick-up the tabs."

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2. Posted by Tombstone, 19/03/2017 22:27

"And all the other typos in my original post."

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3. Posted by Tombstone, 19/03/2017 22:26

"Pronst! OK, it'd be nice to be able to edit daft typos like that!"

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4. Posted by Tombstone, 19/03/2017 22:25

"128, yes, that's one hundred and thenty eight, teams have been involved in F1 over the years. Some, like Ligier/Pronst, or Tyrrell, BAR, Honda, Mercedes, morphed or merged from one to the other.

128 doesn't include the Idianapolis-only ones either. Admittedly many of the 128 only competed in a handful of events - 17 in fact only entered one F1 race each, a further 5 only two races, 1 in three races, etc. In fact if one draws an arbitrary line at 16 races - once the usual number of races per year, then one gets to ~79 teams who completed the equivalent of a season."

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5. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 19/03/2017 17:25

"I can see where Ecclestone was coming from regarding the commitment wanted by CVC back when the agreement for the bonuses was signed however, if Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport with it's global marketing reach that we are constantly told, then no bonus should have been required to be paid to any team. On the contrary, there should have been organisations queuing up to join."

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