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Mateschitz: Teams should own F1

NEWS STORY
17/02/2009

Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has hit out at the current owners of Formula One claiming that they care only for money and that it is the participants, the teams, who should run and own the sport.

In late December, early January, Bernie Ecclestone was involved in a public spat with Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, who was wearing his Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) hat at the time. The Italian took a swipe at the sport's current management, both commercial and regulatory.

"We think that Formula 1 has to be a normal sport that is not connected to single people," he said. "There must be a triangle: at the top there are the teams, who invest and innovate, today more than ever before; then there's someone who manages the commercial aspects, a type of super agent, just like Ecclestone has been doing; last but not least a sporting and political authority, which takes the teams' unanimity into account and protects the sports nature."

Now, in a surprise move, Mateschitz, who is a close friend of Max Mosley, has launched a stinging attack on the owners of the sport in which he has two teams.

"They have neither expertise nor passion about and for motorsport," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. "Their engagement, which is a natural under the circumstances, is simply a financial one, geared towards maximizing profits."

In the wake of Honda's withdrawal from the sport, the result of a global financial crisis that is causing sponsors and manufacturers to seriously reconsider whether they can afford to be in F1, Mateschitz is worried that so far F1 has only seen the tip of the iceberg.

"It's not only Renault, it's the same with Toyota and apparently even BMW," he said. "Virtually everyone in F1 one is looking at themselves in these difficult times."

He is also concerned that despite the fact that it is the teams who put on the show, it is CVC, JP Morgan and Ecclestone who own it.

"All of these factors contribute towards the instability of the sport," said the Austrian. "It is the teams that are carrying all the financial risk. It is the teams that not only have the necessary competence, they also have the necessary passion for motorsport. There is just one logical and ethically justifiable owner of Formula One and that is the teams. That is the only way that the survival of motorsport is guaranteed on a long-term basis. The teams need to maximize their marketing value, but they also need to own the assets."

The billionaire believes that the only positive way forward is for the teams to come up with a plan to take over the sport from its current owners.

"Everybody can see that the value of Formula One is not that which it was a year ago," he said.

With the Austrian having lit the blue touchpaper it will be interesting to watch the firework display that will surely follow.

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