APRIL 4, 2001

European car manufacturers threaten to set-up rival series

FIVE European car manufacturers have threatened to set-up a rival series to the Formula One World Championship.

Paolo Cantarella, chairman of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and chief executive officer of Italian car company Fiat, said in a statement on Wednesday that the car giants will create a new championship.

The ACEA, which is made up of Fiat, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Renault and Ford, are believed to be unhappy with the row over broadcasting and commercial rights in the sport.

"As a result of recent developments and in the best interests of motor sport, it has been unanimously agreed to set-up a joint company, the purpose of which will be to establish, as soon as possible, a new open-wheels single-seat racing car series," said Cantarella.

ACEA are believed to be unhappy with Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone's plans to sell a further 25 per cent of his SLEC holding company to German media giants Kirch.

Kirch bought a share of fellow German media company EM.TV, who had already purchased 50 per cent of SLEC, which currently holds the commercial and broadcasting rights to Formula One.

ACEA are concerned that they will not have a say in the future of the sport and have threatened an alternative series as a response.

The move could have far reaching affects for the current structure of Formula One as all five manufacturers have interests in teams.

Fiat own Ferrari, BMW supply engines to Williams, DaimlerChrysler through Mercedes-Benz supply power-units to McLaren, Ford own Jaguar Racing, and Renault have taken over Benetton and will set-up as an independent team next season.