Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Battle for F1 Power Leaves Ecclestone on the Brink; with FIA Chief Mosley Looking Doomed, the Max and Bernie Roadshow Looks to Have Finally Run out of Gas. by David Smith

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Battle for F1 Power Leaves Ecclestone on the Brink; with FIA Chief Mosley Looking Doomed, the Max and Bernie Roadshow Looks to Have Finally Run out of Gas. by David Smith

Article excerpt

Byline: David Smith

WALK through the paddock at Silverstone, where final preparations are taking place ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix, and you will find Bernie Ecclestone's plush motorhome with its intimidating dark grey windows standing well apart from the rest.

Today, as Formula One digests the bombshell news that there could be two rival championships next season, Ecclestone's isolation is appropriate. Because the struggle for power in Formula One may be about to claim its biggest victim, the 79-year-old son of a Suffolk trawlerman who, through his exploitation of the sport's broadcasting rights, has netted a fortune estimated to be worth [pounds sterling]1.5billion, making him the 24th richest man in Britain according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

Significantly, only one man came knocking on Ecclestone's door this morning, and it was no shock that Max Mosley's first port of call upon arriving at Silverstone was 'Bernie's Bus'.

That visit lent weight to the big question being posed at Silverstone: Have the wheels finally come off the Bernie and Max roadshow? As it stands it looks like Mosley is finished and that Ecclestone's future is on the line. Both men appear to have made a fatal business error by underestimating the resolve of the FOTA rebels to take a greater cut of the money that oils the wheels of their sport and assume greater control over the running of Formula One.

Ecclestone, through his London-based Formula One Management and Formula One Administration companies, is closely aligned with Mosley, the controversial president of the FIA, who has angered the teams with his dictatorial imposition of new rules and an unshakeable belief that only a budget cap can prevent other major manufacturers following Honda out of the pit lane.

Between them, Ecclestone and Mosley formed a formidable partnership that controlled the governance of Formula One, and its income from broadcasting and the fees that circuits pay to host grands prix.

But the two have been outnumbered by the gang of eight who form the membership of FOTA -- Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn, Renault, Toyota, BMW-Sauber, Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

They, like Mosley, could see the way the financial wind was blowing when Honda suddenly quit in December last year. The global credit crunch meant the years of exorbitant spending in Formula One were over. But the teams wanted to cut costs their way, not through Mosley's budget cap of an initial [pounds sterling]40million which, besides anything else, would have led to wholesale redundancies throughout an F1 industry based mainly in the UK.

Governing the cap would also have meant teams financed by major industrial corporations such as MercedesBenz, BMW and Toyota having to open their books to FIA auditors. If Mosley, a sharp political animal, thought he was going to get away with that, he was being unusually naive. …

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