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F1 bosses ponder the future

THE major Formula 1 team principals met with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on Friday afternoon at Imola to discuss the problem of what happens to Grand Prix racing after Ecclestone. The 65-year-old runs most aspects of the sport through his company Formula 1 Promotions and Administration. It is Bernie who negotiates most of the deals without a large organization to back him up. This keeps down the overheads but means that most of the power in the sport is concentrated on one man. The teams have been worried for some time about what would happen in the event of Ecclestone's death or retirement.

Talks have been going on for some months over how the sport should be run post-Ecclestone, and we understand that a deal is gradually being hammered out which will involve the teams buying 100% of FOPA from either Ecclestone or his estate. The shareholdings among the teams is expected to be worked out based on the length of time they have been involved in F1 and the results they have achieved. Teams do not have to take shares and can sell them as they wish, although there is a concerted effort being made to make sure that a big sponsor cannot take over the running of the sport.

We understand that three lawyers are currently working on the problem: one from Ecclestone himself, one from Ferrari and one from the FOCA teams. Such a deal may seem very attractive at the moment, but the teams have proved in the past that they can rarely work together effectively and so dividing up the shares between them will only confuse matters, and it will not be until someone takes a majority shareholding in the organization that stability will be guaranteed.

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