MAY 19, 2005
Ecclestone and the FIA
Bernie Ecclestone is considering joining the FIA! Again. In a move which is obviously designed to stir things up in Formula 1, FIA President Max Mosley has told The Guardian newspaper that Ecclestone (74) has not decided what he is going to do. Mosley (65) has run into trouble with the teams in recent times and it has been clear for some time that they do not wish to work with him as FIA President and if necessary will start their own championship. However they are more willing to work with Ecclestone and the current leak looks like an attempt to settle things down and get F1 moving in the right direction again.
If this move were to happen, with Ecclestone taking on some form of deputy president role, Mosley would remain as president but (in theory at least) would have no further involvement in F1. That would be left to Ecclestone, who would be part of Mosley's team of "ministers".
This would mean that Ecclestone would have to give up his shares in the Formula One group, although in effect this has already happened as the shares belong to an offshore trust fund controlled by his family.
The story is clearly designed to end a message to the banks, who would have to run the commercial business without him if Ecclestone decides to make the move. There have been hints of this for a while now but it seems that we are now getting into a decisive phase.
The whole business may be designed to convince the banks to sell their shares back to Ecclestone. The danger of the game is that someone else might step in to run the business although with a change of control clause in the FIA-Formula One contract it could be that the long-term plan is to move Ecclestone across to an FIA role and then take the rights away from the banks. Such a move would almost certainly end up with massive legal action.
The manoeuvre may also be designed to dissuade anyone within the FIA from standing against Mosley in the forthcoming elections and stop them proposing to do a deal with the banks to edge Mosley out of the picture.
The soap opera continues.
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