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Manufacturers unimpressed by Ecclestone's cartel smear

NEWS STORY
18/03/2016

Asked about Bernie Ecclestone's recent claim that they comprise a cartel, Mercedes’ Toto Wolff and Ferrari's Maurizio Arrivabene were quick to vent their displeasure.

Ecclestone's claim, which followed Max Mosley's suggestion that the engine manufacturers, particularly Mercedes and Ferrari, wield too much power, was largely the result of the failure to meet Red Bull's (engine) demands last season, which in turn led to calls for an independent supplier and a subsequent demand for more acceptable pricing and distribution.

"When you're looking at today's press conference, there's a lot of positivity around what's happening," Toto Wolff told reporters in Melbourne. "Red Bull has brought Aston Martin back into the sport, a mega-brand. Renault is back as an official works team, Haas has entered the sport, an American team...

"But having said that, I don't think there is any cartel around here, nor is the sport run as a cartel," he continued. "Bernie is always good for controversy and throwing one in. If that were to run like a cartel we wouldn't be sitting here. Some of us are part of multi-national global companies and we're taking compliance very seriously. It causes headlines but nothing else."

"I think this talk of a cartel is simply ridiculous," snapped Arrivabene. "Simply ridiculous. Everybody, they are doing their job, they try to do their best. We are talking here about brands who have a long story. They are not going to throw out of the window their story, their reputation for this comment that they don't deserve even one word.

"I have to say," he continued, "it's strange because in this world you have to be careful sometimes because, if you are talking a bit more with somebody, if I'm going to go to the dinner with Toto or Cyril, I do a cartel? It's simply a dinner!

"We have to learn something from rugby, that when you are in the field, you play very hard, you punch, whatever you have to do. And then afterwards, they go to the dinner and no-one is talking about having a cartel or creating some mismatch during the match. It's simply ridiculous."

"I would not agree with that definition of cartel for the simple reason that we are all in a competitive environment," added Renault's Cyril Abiteboul, "so at the end of the day Ferrari wants to win against Mercedes and hopefully one day Renault will want to win, I don't know, against Ferrari. So, for that simple reason, any sort of unity will not last. So I will not agree with you. I will not concur with that. Plus, you have to accept that only a limited number of manufacturers have the financial capacity to subsidise the cost of the technology in accordance with the current regulation that we have all accepted. So no, I would not concur with that view."

Asked his opinion, Christian Horner, whose (ongoing) engine dilemma kick-started the row, said: "I think you can understand that Bernie's frustrated and his comments are borne out of frustration of being unable to influence change.

"You've got a dynamic in Formula One at the moment where the manufacturers collectively have a lot of strength. That primarily is through the technical regulations and the current situation regarding the power unit. I think Bernie's frustration as a promoter is that he can't influence that at this point in time. His comments obviously I think have come off the back of that.

"Our situation is different to that of a manufacturer team. As an independent team we rely on the manufacturers for the supply of an engine and, of course, there's been great debate as to what price that engine should be, what format it should be and, of course, you have a divergence of performance as well. So, there's some key issues that do need to be addressed. Hopefully consensus and agreement can be found on that in the near future."

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1. Posted by gturner38, 18/03/2016 23:46

"It's funny that Bernie would have frustration as a promoter given that I have never seen him actually try to "promote" Formula 1. At the best of times, he sits back and puts the onus on the circuits, teams, and television networks to promote the series. At other times, such as now, he actively trashes the product in public."

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