FEBRUARY 16, 2006

Why is the GPMA so quiet?

The Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association is saying nothing about the latest ideas which have put into the public domain by FIA President Max Mosley. What is perhaps more interesting is the fact that none of the team principals involved have made any public statements about the proposals, particularly the idea that entries for the 2008 season will open and close within the next three months.

The unusual silence in all these matters suggests that there are other things more important being discussed at the moment and we hear that the silence may be because the manufacturers are close to a commercial deal with CVC Capital Partners, the new owners of the Formula One group, the commercial rights holder of Formula 1. If such a deal were to go through it would leave the FIA in a very uncomfortable position as it could then appear to be the only thing standing in the way of long-term stability for the sport.

Our spies tell us that there are some questions which still need to be answered before a deal can be done between CVC and the manufacturers. One question is whether CVC is operating on its own behalf or whether it is representing a client. The shareholdings in CVC are public information but this does not mean that the company is acting in its own right or whether it is acting on behalf of someone else and simply taking a fee.

There are also questions about what CVC would do when it takes control of the Formula One business (which cannot happen until there has been regulatory clearance from the European Union). The fear is that it would immediately issue a large new bond and thus make back its investment in the sport, leaving the sport to once again commit its future revenues to paying off a large debt. This is important as a percentage of the income would then be disappearing each year, leaving less to be shared by the teams.