DECEMBER 2, 2001
Ecclestone warns that F1 uncertainty could drive away sponsors
F1 overlord Bernie Ecclestone applied a touch of the brake to the aspirations of the major car makers at the end of a week in which they have threatened to start their own independent series in 2008 unless a new commercial rights deal can be concluded.
Speaking in the Sunday Times newspaper, Ecclestone today warned that sponsorship could be jeopardized in the future as a result of what could be perceived as a split between the major factions in F1. He also obliquely criticized Fiat chief executive Paolo Cantarella from fronting a proposal which, on the face of it, would give the competing F1 teams a bigger income.
"The manufacturers came into (F1) because it was a shop window for them, so why do they want to destroy it?" asked Ecclestone who last year sold the Kirch media group 75 per cent of his SLEC empire.
"The sponsors are not happy, they want to reconsider. I have told them to wait and see what happens. They became involved because they liked the stability of F1 and knew these things were done properly. Once these companies leave it is hard to get them back."
Ecclestone also suggested that Cantarella might not have communicated details of a similar offer from Kirch to the other manufacturers.
"I don't think Cantarella passed on the details," said Bernie. "What they don't realize is that the 50 per cent the teams get from us would be more than the 100 per cent they would get if they did their own thing.
"It has taken them two years to agree to make a company that has nothing in it and they have made a lot of incorrect assumptions. People don't want to win an athletics meeting, they want to win the Olympics."