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Teams threatened to boycott Australian GP

NEWS STORY
24/03/2009

According to a report in The Times, in a row over money, members of the Formula One Teams' Association threatened to boycott this week's season opener in Melbourne.

It's understood that at a meeting at Formula One Management's Knightsbridge HQ last week, Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore both threatened that unless Bernie Ecclestone wrote a cheque for outstanding monies, their teams would not fly out to Australia for the season opener. Furthermore, they warned that other members of FOTA would follow suit.

The Times article on the meeting, which was also attended by Toyota's John Howett, though based on a leak, has since been confirmed by Ecclestone who admits that the dispute was about money owed to the teams but which he is unwilling to pay out until a new Concorde Agreement is signed.

"Flavio said, 'we're not going to put our cars on the plane, we're not going to Melbourne,'" Ecclestone claims. "He - Flavio - started it, aided and abetted by Ron Dennis."

However, according to the F1 supremo, he called their bluff.

"I picked up the phone to our people that handle all the freight to ask them to cancel the aeroplanes," said Ecclestone. "They were saying, 'all the Fota-schmota are not going - nobody's going to go.' So I said what I'd better do is cancel the aircraft obviously. It costs a fortune to charter those things and almost as much to cancel them."

While Dennis and Briatore clearly backed down, the cars are now in Australia, Ecclestone reveals that though present, Howett was barely involved. "Poor John was sitting there a bit confused about life in general," said the Englishman.

"If they come in here with a gun and hold it to my head, they had better be sure they can f***ing pull the trigger," said the F1 supremo of Dennis and Briatore's threat. "And they should make sure it's got bullets in it because, if they miss, they better look out."

Which sets up Ecclestone, FOTA and the FIA nicely for a 'summer of love'... 40 years after Woodstock.

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