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F1 rulemaker aims for bigger role

The body that sets the rules for Formula One insists any agreement on a long-term funding deal with the commercial rights holder and the teams must not only increase the amount of money it gets from them but enhance its influence over the sport.

Jean Todt, president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, will meet the teams and F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone in Paris on Tuesday to thrash out details of an eight-year deal, called the Concorde Agreement, on how to distribute the sport’s commercial revenues.

In the build-up to the crunch talks, the FIA was rumoured to be willing to sacrifice some of its rulemaking powers over F1 in return for a bigger share of revenues.

But in an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Todt said that would not happen. “For me, the FIA must have a bigger impact, not erosion,” he said. “I’m not a dictator trying to control. The contribution and the role of the FIA has to be protected, to be respected.”

He added: “It makes me smile when I read that we are going to lose control?.?.?.?I will never allow things which are under our responsibility to be dealt with by anybody else.”

The FIA is frequently at loggerheads with Mr Ecclestone, who looks after the interests of the rights holder, CVC Capital Partners. They have quarrelled over Mr Todt’s insistence that the teams replace their high-power 2.4-litre engines with a greener, more efficient 1.6-litre turbo from 2014.

But teams are wary of the talks, fearing Mr Todt and Mr Ecclestone will present them with a fait accompli.

Mr Todt praised Mr Ecclestone for his visionary leadership, by contrasting the financial position of F1 with his governing body. The former Ferrari team principal said: “If you sometimes read the figures, F1 is a $2bn [revenue] business or $1.5bn. The FIA is a non-profit organisation, but we need to run our organisation. We need to encourage the development of the sport, we need to encourage development of action for road safety.”

The FIA is expecting to win a bigger contribution to its coffers from CVC and from teams, though Mr Todt said the more successful teams would pay more than they pay now, while others would pay less.

“We cannot be a federation without having any revenue. So where do we find our revenues?”

Mr Todt replaced Max Mosley as FIA president three years ago at a time when the F1 was in crisis over the financial plight of the teams.

The financial health of the teams was “still fragile”, he said, because of the global economic situation and difficulty in finding sponsors, adding he was “a bit disappointed” at efforts to reduce costs.

“I will expect more drastic proposals to reduce the costs,” he said.

Teams have complained that the new engine is adding to their costs, but Mr Todt said he had asked engine suppliers Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes “to take that into consideration”.

But F1 had to evolve with the rest of society, said Mr Todt. “Sometimes it’s a downside of F1. People live in their little environment, in their little kingdom, and they don’t see what is happening.

“But the world is changing?.?.?.?We must be ambassadors of the sport, ambassadors of the industry. Is it correct to use 80 or 90 litres for 100kms? I don’t think it’s correct.”

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