The ongoing negotiations to extend the Concorde Agreement, the contract which governs the teams' share of F1's profits, have been relatively sedate compared to previous years. This is thanks largely to clauses in the current agreement which prevent the teams from threatening to set up a rival series as leverage to get a better deal. Undeterred, it seems that they came up with an alternative strategy of indicating they may buy a stake in F1. Now F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone has called their bluff on that too.
The rumours of the teams' alleged plan came to light around the time that they appointed DC Advisory and Evolution Media Capital to help them with the Concorde negotiations. Soon afterwards, Pitpass reported the views of an influential team principal who believes that there is "no chance" the teams will buy into F1. Ecclestone's retort to their plan is effectively that they should put up or shut up.
The big hurdle preventing the teams buying F1 is the money that they would have to get together. However, speaking to Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt, Ecclestone proposes that F1's owner CVC could take stakes in the teams in return for them getting a stake of equivalent value in the sport. "Maybe the easy way to deal with it is to say 'the company is worth this amount, your company is worth this amount, so we will take a stake in your company and the money you get you can use to buy into our company'," he says.
It may well sound very attractive to the owners of say HRT (though they wouldn't get a big stake in F1 even if they offered all the equity in the team) but one wonders whether McLaren or Ferrari would want to go along with this.
Looking towards the future Ecclestone says his goal is simple: "I'd like to see the teams make money but it's not easy stopping them spending."
You can bet that if Ecclestone got control of any of the teams through a swap for shares in F1 overspending would be a thing of the past.