Formula 1 News

Teams keen to be part of F1 future

Whitmarsh as the FOTA chairman, said: "The teams want to hold a stake in their sport in the future."
Saturday, May 7, 2011

ISTANBUL, May 6, 2011 (AFP) - Formula One teams are keen to be part of any proposed takeover of their sport and wish to control and own the commercial rights of the business in future, McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh confirmed on
Friday.

Speaking as the chairman of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), Whitmarsh told a media briefing at the McLaren team's motor home at the Istanbul Park circuit that the teams wanted to hold a stake in their sport in
the future.

He told reporters that FOTA was ready to listen to News Corporation's plans for the future of the sport.
News Corp went public in confirming their interest in exploring a takeover along with Italian investment group Exor on Tuesday.

Whitmarsh said: "I think it ultimately is desirable to have team ownership of commercial rights. CVC (the current owners) have claimed, or their representative has claimed, that they are not looking to sell, but there are not many venture capitalists who want to keep businesses on their books infinitum.

"Who knows? I have no insight into it and I have not had the discussion personally with CVC. "I think the teams want to ensure that first and foremost that we have stability, we want to ensure that the sport is sustainable and to be
sustainable you need the appropriate level of investment to promote and develop the sport.

"You need the appropriate distribution of the revenues to teams to make it sustainable and those are the primary things. Largely, who owns it, to most teams, is not the biggest concern.

"I think you want stability, you want people investing in the future and you need an appropriate distribution to the teams, and if you have all those things and you have good owners, whoever they are, that is positive.

"The teams have all got to look at whether we, each of us, want to be involved in an ownership model in the future, if the current owners want to sell. I suspect they will at some stage but we will have to see..."

FOTA is due to hold a meeting on Sunday in Istanbul to discuss the News Corp situation. Whitmarsh indicated he is keen that the teams are unified when it comes to talking to the media organisation. "It will be the first time the teams have sat down and had discussions since some of the revelations of the week have come out, and it will be useful
to get people's views."Part of getting the teams to work together is improved communication.

"Before FOTA, seldom did the teams sit down and say what do you think of this? What have you heard?"Asked if FOTA would be open to hearing what News Corporation plans, he added: "Yes, of course. We have to be open to that, but we have to be respectful of our relationship with the current commercial rights holder."

Veteran F1 ring-master Briton Bernie Ecclestone, 80, is the current rights-holder. Whitmarsh also made clear that there were no moves to create any kind of breakaway championship and denied inaccurate earlier reports that claimed top
teams McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes were set to meet News Corp in Stuttgart next week.

He said it was more likely that various shareholders in the teams would open some dialogue with News Corp. The shareholders include investment groups from Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.  

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