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Force India and Sauber withdraw European Commission complaint

NEWS STORY
25/01/2018

Force India and Sauber have revealed that they have withdrawn their complaint lodged with the European Commission in 2015.

"We have decided to withdraw the complaint we lodged with the European Commission in 2015 on the subject of anti-competitive practices in the sport of Formula 1," said the teams in a joint statement.

"We have been greatly encouraged by the dialogue that has been introduced following the appointment of Chase Carey as Executive Chairman and CEO of the Formula 1 commercial rights holder and his new management team.

"Their approach has brought a new culture of transparency to the sport and illustrates willingness to debate fundamental issues such as the distribution of the prize fund monies, cost control and engine regulations.

"We are encouraged and reassured by the even-handed and fair negotiating approach taken by the new management of Formula 1 to all the teams and their issues. While the concerns leading to the compliant were fully justified, we believe this new approach provides the necessary degree of assurance that our concerns will be looked at objectively, and we prefer to resolve the issues facing the sport through dialogue rather than a legal dispute.

"We want to support this transformational process in Formula 1 and thus have resolved to withdraw our complaint with immediate effect."

In November 2014, British politician Anneliese Dodds, Labour MEP for the South East England region, and just a few months into her new role, wrote to Europe's competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, calling on her to investigate two moves made by the FIA which she claimed were questionable.

The first was the FIA's acceptance of a 1% stake in the F1 Group which ran F1, the second being the formation of the F1 Strategy Group, which the FIA agreed to in return for a payment of $40m.

Dodds claimed that the Strategy Group has immense power, such as it vetoing of the $200m budget cap which would have gone some way to levelling the playing field and might have saved Caterham and subsequently called on the European competition commissioner to "look into this possible breach of competition rules as a matter of urgency and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that the undertakings made by the FIA are being observed as originally intended."

Meanwhile, Krzysztof Kuik, an antitrust head at the European Commission, had already interviewed representatives from Force India, Sauber and the now defunct Lotus, the three teams most vocal about F1 costs in the wake of the demise of Caterham and who were said to be considering boycotting the United States Grand Prix.

It was also claimed that; "two more figures, whose names have been withheld, had given critical accounts of the way F1 is run".

Previously a complaint concerning F1 was lodged in 2009 which concerned the selection process for the new teams entering the sport in 2010 and, in particular, the fact that those selected would have to use Cosworth engines.

While today’s news sees and end the any investigation following Force India and Sauber’s complaint, the European Commission is still understood to be looking at the sport, with particular attention being paid to the FIA’s 1% stake in the F1 Group.

Though the withdrawal of the complaint is a clear sign that Sauber and Force India are willing to give the sport's new owners the time to prove themselves, it remains to be seen how attitudes change as proposals for the division of the prize money are put forward.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Ro, 25/01/2018 15:29

"Doesnt mention what they got in "return" for their co-operation....."

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2. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 25/01/2018 11:39

"Do not rock the boat boys."

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