The headlines screamed “Peace!”, but the
car makers’ so-called deal with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, unveiled on Sunday
at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya, is far from complete.
It is interesting to note the slightly
mixed messages out of the two press releases. The Renault announcement made it clear that
the concrete is now drying. A deal, no doubt, is done. Following suit, the Grand
Prix Manufacturers’ Association’s (GPMA) document to the press indicated that
Toyota, Mercedes, Honda and BMW are also now committed.
But, for the last quartet, there is no “Concorde”
in sight. What they signed in Spain is a memorandum of understanding, which,
crucially, excludes the signature of a fairly important 75-year-old supremo
Indeed, their “agreement” should be viewed
more as an end to divisions between the GPMA members, rather than with the F1
It should also be seen as a reaction to
Renault’s not-so-subtle intention to create headlines like “GPMA member quits
“(The GPMA teams) look forward to the
commercial rights holder accepting the terms agreed today,” the GPMA statement said.
Confirmation of Bernie’s assent, and that of CVC Capital Partners (who
own Formula One’s commercial rights), was expected on Sunday evening,
is unclear whether this took place.
CVC’s Donald McKenzie was believed to have been on his way to Barcelona
on Sunday afternoon.
Furthermore, it is not known to what extent
a compromise was settled over the issue of money; GPMA was vehemently pushing
for 60% of F1’s income, but Ecclestone was offering only 50%.
Another missing piece is the sporting,
technical and the rather thorny governance issues. The GPMA’s continuing debate
with the FIA is still a long way from
McLaren-Mercedes’ Ron Dennis said: “This
document is only the first step towards a new Concorde Agreement and … (new)
sporting and technical regulations.
“There is still a way to go. This is not the final version of the Concorde
Agreement, but it is a good starting point.” Despite what the F1 spin gurus are