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Fresh fears of F1 breakaway

NEWS STORY
07/06/2008

While Bernie Ecclestone held talks with team bosses regarding the signing of a new Concorde Agreement yesterday, there are fears that there could be a breakaway as discontent over the Mosley saga rumbles on.

Ecclestone and the teams are keen to agree a new Concorde Agreement, and it is understood that progress was made at yesterday's meeting, ahead of further talks today and tomorrow.

However, in the wake of Max Mosley's claims that the Commercial Rights Owner (Ecclestone and CVC) is seeking to take control of F1, the FIA is looking unlikely to sign up unless it feels its own criteria is being met.

Therefore, in what is being is seen as a move to sidestep Mosley and the FIA, it is understood that Ecclestone is considering setting up a breakaway series.

The Times quotes a "senior (F1) team source as saying: "The manufacturers supply the cars and the drivers and the sponsors, Bernie has the contracts with the circuits and the TV companies. Max is just the referee - the FIA blows the whistle."

While another "informed source" added: "You've got to ask if it's come down to this, 'Is this town big enough for the both of us?' " referring to Mosley and Ecclestone.

The teams, and most notably the manufacturers, have talked of a breakaway series before, however, up until now Ecclestone and Mosley have been united. Now, the two are clearly at odds, though whether this is all down to the sex scandal is a matter of opinion.

In February this year, Pitpass reported on a minor story which had previously appeared in the Daily Mirror in December 2007. The author of the Mirror article described in detail a meeting he had in a Knightsbridge pub with Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. The topic of conversation was not F1 but football and in particular the duo's acquisition of London club Queens Park Rangers.

Ecclestone made used a motor racing analogy in order to explain how he wanted to accelerate the team's standing, saying: "At QPR, we're in Formula Renault at the moment. Next, we want to move up to GP2 and then GP1."

We admitted that though Ecclestone was not talking on his familiar territory of F1, making a blunder about the name of the sport that he has run for over 30 years seemed too hard to believe. We therefore questioned whether the F1 Supremo had really made a mistake or had maybe been misquoted. Then we pointed out that Bernie's private company Formula One Promotions and Administration (FOPA) has a trademark for the word GP1 as well as logos for GP2 Series and GP3.

In fact, in mid-2005 GP1 was rumoured to have been be the name of a racing series which Bernie could have set up if the car manufacturers had started their own series or if he had been ousted by the banks which owned F1 at the time. The carmakers' series never got off the starting grid and after CVC bought the F1 Group for $1.7 billion at the end of 2005 Bernie was kept on as its chief executive with one share in the business to his name.

According to Ecclestone's allies, Williams and Ferrari, always a strong supporter of the FIA, are both almost on board, with the manufacturer teams already keen to distance themselves from the FIA.

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