JUNE 20, 2003
BMW and the GPWC
The GPWC has never been a very cohesive organization with announcements such as the commitment to supply cheap engines to F1 teams not being supported by all the companies involved. Now it seems BMW is less than happy with the predominant role being played in the GPWC by rival Mercedes-Benz. There are also believed to be questions about how best the GPWC should handle the problem of the banks, which own 75% of the Formula One group's holding company SLEC. Some of the GPWC members want to buy out the banks and thus gain control of the commercial rights to the sport. This move would be expensive at a time when things are not easy in the automobile industry and could be blocked by the FIA which remains the ultimate owner of the rights and has a veto if there is a "change of control".
Another option is to join forces with Bernie Ecclestone and issue bonds to cover the purchase. This would leave Ecclestone in control but would also saddle the F1 community with a debt which would have to be repaid and that would therefore reduce the money available to the teams. The aim of the GPWC is to increase the money that goes to the teams. Starting a rival series has never looked like much of an option, particularly as it has now come to light that Ecclestone owns the intellectual property rights to the rules and regulations and so any new series would have to do something completely different to avoid copyright issues and that would be more expensive than continuing to develop the current machinery.
There are additional problems as there are some within the BMW hierarchy who are questioning whether it is a good idea for a car manufacturer to be involved in trying to run the sport. Even BMW's GPWC delegate Burkhard Goeschel, who cut his teeth in the automobile industry with 10 years at Mercedes-Benz, is understood to be questioning the logic of BMW becoming involved in the organization of the sport.
BMW is in F1 for the technology, the image and the F1 attitude and sees little value in trying to be the regulator.
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