APRIL 21, 1997
...and aims for team stability
AS part of his program to strengthen the F1 package in the long-term, Bernie Ecclestone is talking about introducing a $24m deposit for any new teams wanting to enter the Formula 1 World Championship. If accepted - and there is no reason why it will not be as teams are unlikely to want to miss the chance to strengthen their positions - any new team will have to pay up $24m in advance and will then be paid back $1m a month over a two-year period.
This will effectively wipe out any chance of a small operation coming into F1 and building itself up as a team such as Jordan has been able to do in 1991. Since then all new teams which have tried to enter F1 without manufacturer backing (Sauber and Stewart were funded by Mercedes-Benz and Ford respectively) have gone to the wall, many of them going down with heavy debts. A $24m bond would wipe out such a phenomenon because only a team with enormous backing could even consider getting into the sport. This would mean that the best way of getting into F1 would be buying an existing operation, which is a neat way of creating "a retirement fund" for the older team F1 owners.
The only slight worry for F1 bosses must be that one day someone may decide that F1 has become too much of a closed shop and ask the Monopolies Commission to take a look at the way in which the sport is operated. This is more likely to happen if Ecclestone's Formula 1 Holdings has been floated as a public company.
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