Ecclestone threatens to sue FIA over engines


If you thought that the row over F1's new engine regulations had quietened down then you had better think again.

One week ago Pitpass revealed that 17 of F1's race promoters had grouped together to oppose the introduction in 2014 of the 12,000rpm V6 and their stance led to the teams agreeing to increase engine revs to 15,000rpm.

However, as Pitpass subsequently reported, this did not pacify the promoters who even threatened to switch to US rival IndyCar if the new engine is introduced. Their representative Ron Walker said that the new engines must be 18,000rpm and must sound the same as the current units. It now looks like he has a significant helping hand in his campaign.

Writing in today's Independent, Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt explains that F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone has threatened to sue to the sport's governing body the FIA over the way in which the engine regulations were introduced.

"[The race promoters] believe that these [new] engines will take away what people want when they go to Formula One races - the glamour and the noise - and therefore they won't be able to sell the tickets and they won't be able to pay us," says Ecclestone. He adds "they have got a contract with me and if they can't honour it, because they aren't selling any tickets, I probably wouldn't hold them to it."

To prevent the races from leaving Ecclestone says "we may have to sue the FIA." The specific grounds for his concern are that the decision to introduce the new engines breached his contract with the governing body.

F1's rights holder, Jersey-based company Delta Topco, is run by Ecclestone and majority owned by private equity firm CVC. It has an agreement with the FIA to promote F1 for the next 100 years and this contract also details the process for introducing new rules to F1. First they must be formulated by the Technical Working Group before being approved by the Formula One Commission. Finally, the FIA's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) must give new regulations the green light.

However, Ecclestone says "[FIA president Jean] Todt tried to derail the Formula One Commission. Todt is doing his best to say I'm in charge and I do whatever I want and that's what we don't like. If the FIA don't comply with our 100 year agreement we will have to [sue]. I hope it won't get to that."

This is far from the first time that this view has been proposed. In April, whilst other media outlets naively believed that the 12,000rpm engine was "going ahead, whether some of the people involved in Formula 1 like it or not" a very senior source at the FIA told Pitpass "I don't believe we ever voted clearly on the engine."

The WMSC voted on the engines last week and Ecclestone says "the V6 engine will go through but it doesn't solve the problem of doing things in the correct way." He adds that the engine's rev limit "doesn't have to be approved until 30 June 2012."

Crucially, successful legal action could avoid the circuits leaving F1. If the decision-making process has not been followed properly then it may quite literally be back to the drawing board for the engine regulations which would of course give an opportunity for the 15,000rpm limit to be lifted. It looks like, yet again, it would indeed be foolish to say that the engine regulations are going ahead, whether some of the people involved in Formula 1 like it or not.

Article from Pitpass (

Published: 04/07/2011
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