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Sauber's 20m EC 'sweetener' from Ferrari?

NEWS STORY
26/01/2018

While the real reason for Force India's epiphany in terms of withdrawing its complaint with the European Commission over the governance of F1 remains a mystery and we are therefore left to accept the Silverstone-based outfit's claim that it is "encouraged by the dialogue that has been introduced following the appointment of Chase Carey" and believes the new management's "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", leaving the team "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", perhaps the reason for Sauber's move is a little more basic. Money.

Make no mistake, Sauber was the driving force - no pun intended - behind the complaint made to the European Commission in 2015, the Swiss team angry and frustrated at its meagre share of the F1 prize pot, arguing that it needed more.

Two years later and along comes Liberty Media to purchase the sport and one of its first moves is to announce that in a bid to make the sport more competitive, to level the playing field, it will address the thorny issue of prize money. In addition to giving the teams a more equal slice, though the precise proposals have yet to be made, the sport's new owner reveals that the various bonuses paid to some teams will be scrapped.

So, on the one hand we have Sauber complaining about its meagre share of the prize pot, while on the other we have Ferrari, which under the present agreement takes home the most money no matter where it finishes in the standings, looking to lose out heavily.

While Sauber's (and Force India's) complaint was ongoing, Liberty could rightly argue that its plan to divide the prize pot more evenly was essential if the European Commission's investigation was to give the sport a clean bill of health.

Lo and behold, in late 2017, Sauber is the recipient of an estimated 20m deal which sees the Swiss outfit get a new title sponsor in the form of Alfa Romeo - part of the Fiat Chrysler group of which (Ferrari president) Sergio Marchionne is CEO and from which Ferrari was 'spun off' in 2016 - along with current-spec engines and a hot-shot new driver in the form of F2 champion Charles Leclerc.

Indeed, the move is such that people are referring to Sauber as Ferrari's B-team, a claim the Swiss outfit dismisses.

Yet in calling Sauber Ferrari's B-team, people are concentrating on the benefits to the Swiss team rather than its Italian friends.

Sauber's decision to drop the EC complaint now means that Liberty is no longer able to use the argument about the prize money needing to be more balanced - which we all know would hurt Ferrari more than any other - in order to prevent the EC ruling against F1.

In other words, by withdrawing the complaint Sauber has severely weakened Liberty's negotiating position when it comes to reducing the prize money... and all at the cost of a (comparatively) trifling 20m to Maranello.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by mickl, 01/02/2018 15:26

"Well this gives Machionne more leverage against negotiations with Liberty as effectively 2 teams will probably threaten to drop out if the italians lose their $100m cash grab. 2 and a half teams if you include Haas. "

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2. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 26/01/2018 14:24

"Will the EC still continue with an investigation despite FI and Sauber dropping their complaint?

Note - at first glance at the photo, I thought it was Mel Brooks under Marchionne's Vulkan shoulder grip!!! Maybe he (Brooks) would be a better incumbent for the position."

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