Honda website
Honda website

FEBRUARY 6, 2001

FIA to sell F1 commercial rights to car companies?

THE FINANCIAL TIMES in London is reporting that Bernie Ecclestone may lose the rights to the Formula 1 World Championship after 2010 unless he pays the $360m he has agreed to pay to the federation. The story looks very much like an attempt by the FIA to hurry along negotiations.

The stories published suggest that the car makers have appointed Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, to advise on a purchase and that the FIA is on the verge of appointing its own advisors.

But the story does not really ring true as other sources indicate that the car companies are still a long way from agreeing amongst themselves about how to push ahead. It is also in the interest of the FIA to get the deal done quickly as an extraordinary general assembly of the FIA is scheduled for March 22 to discuss the issue.

The Financial Times says that the car manufacturers tried to bid for the rights in June last year but the FIA rebuffed the approach, saying that a deal had already been agreed with Ecclestone. The negotiations have dragged on for months with the latest suggestion being that the European Commission will allow Ecclestone to buy the rights outright rather than to lease them for a 100-year period as had originally been agreed. The story may also be related to the ongoing battle for control of EM.TV (which owns a share of Ecclestone's company) as the possibility that there is not a long-term deal for the rights will weaken Ecclestone's bargaining position.