OCTOBER 1, 2007
The problem for Prodrive
Bernie Ecclestone told the F1 team principals in Fuji that Prodrive has the money that is needed to launch its bid to enter F1 next year - using McLaren chassis and Mercedes-Benz engines. Prodrive will be paying McLaren around $100m and should mean that the cars will be sufficiently competitive to produce good results. We hear that the team has a title sponsor that is new to the sport and also has an agreement with Ecclestone over prize money.
The problem is that some of the other teams are still fundamentally opposed to the idea of customer cars in F1. Some are said to so against the idea that they may even be reconsidering their positions in the sport - or at least using this as an excuse to get out. The fear is that the sport will become dependent on six super-teams, but the chances are that within a few years some of the manufacturers will have gone from F1 and other teams - notably Prodrive - will be wanting to move on to become constructors. This is why the FIA is arguing so vehemently for cost-cutting.
What needs to be watched now is the FIA Court of Appeal as we understand that Williams is questioning the legality of the Prodrive entry with a chassis manufactured by another team. No-one is willing to talk about what is happening but our understanding is that the failure of the negotiations for a new Concorde Agreement means that everyone has agreed to let the old agreement roll over into 2008. If that is the case then there is no agreement over customer cars and Prodrive will not have the right to use chassis built by McLaren as these will still be explicitly banned in the Concorde Agreement.
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