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Carmakers discuss new series

By Alan Baldwin
January 03, 2005 21:28 IST
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Leading carmakers will meet Formula One team bosses before the start of the season on March 6 to outline their blueprint for a 'rival' series from 2008.

A spokesman for the Grand Prix World Championship (GPWC) being planned by Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and BMW said on Monday that no date or location had been confirmed but the meeting would be before the Australian Grand Prix.

"We are progressing into the key areas that the new series needs to have in place to start on time," he said. "We will present them to the team principals before the start of the season for their input and approval."

Representatives of the key circuits -- including Hockenheim, the Nuerburgring, Magny-Cours and Monza -- either met GPWC bosses in Paris a few weeks ago or are in the process of discussions.

"We made a lot of progress in November and December and now we start working again this week," said the spokesman.

A report in Britain's Times newspaper on Monday said the GPWC planned to promise the teams 80 percent of the sport's revenues, quadrupling their current combined share of about $190 million a year, as well as control of the business.

However the spokesman could not confirm the percentage.

"We can say that all of the profits in the sport will go to the teams but revenue structures will be changed in such a dramatic way that they cannot be compared (to the existing system," he said.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo mentioned the 80

percent figure last month as a goal and warned that this year would be decisive for the sport's future.

"From 2008 there will be only one Formula One world championship and the decision on this will fall in 2005," he said.

"If there is no solution then from 2008 there will be a new series organised on our behalf."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone is under pressure to relax his grip after a court ruling last month found in favour of three shareholder banks in a boardroom dispute with far-reaching implications.

The banks are keen to reach a deal with the carmakers to protect a billion dollar investment that could otherwise be worth little by the end of 2007.

Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers control 75 percent of the SLEC holding company that owns the commercial rights to Formula One.

While many in Formula One think there will be an agreement to prevent a damaging split, SLEC chairman Gerhard Gribkowsky of Bayerische Landesbank said last month the banks took the threat of a breakaway seriously and were interested in reaching a deal with the carmakers.

Renault and champions Ferrari run their own teams while Mercedes own part of McLaren and BMW are partners with Williams. Honda and Toyota are the other major carmakers involved in the 10 team championship.

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Alan Baldwin
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