APRIL 13, 2002
Is there a deal already over F1's future?
TOTAL secrecy surrounds the negotiations between the automobile manufacturers and the commercial rights holder in F1, SLEC. The manufacturers were due to meet at Imola on Saturday and insiders say that the mood is optimistic and one or two hints suggest that a deal may already have been done to merge the interests of the manufacturers with the existing commercial arrangements to stop a split in the ranks at the end of 2007.
The evidence to back this up is limited but there is no doubt that two of the leading players: Bernie Ecclestone and Ron Dennis were both in very high spirits at Imola - for no apparent reason.
It may be that details needs to be sorted out and that a deal in principle is in place. However this is complete speculation as none of the parties involved will even discuss the issue.
The most likely outcome now that Kirch is in trouble is that the rights to the championship for the next 108 years will be purchased from SLEC by the car manufacturers and/or banks and a percentage of these will remain in the hands of the Ecclestone Family. Whether this will remain at the current 25% is not certain but in the best interests of all concerned a quick deal is the best solution as there are already doubts which are beginning to affect long term sponsorships in F1 circles.
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