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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Bernie wants to cut team income, subsidize circuits
  • McLaren liars no longer with team - Mosley
  • Vettel waiting for Shanghai replica trophy
  • Webber tells Schu to give bike racing a miss
  • Ecclestone admits F1 needs a Beckham
  • Spanish F1 venue hits back at swine flu panic

Bernie wants to cut team income, subsidize circuits
(GMM)  F1 teams' lagging commitment to the sport could cost them millions in commercial income, Bernie Ecclestone has warned.

The Concorde Agreement expired at the end of 2007, resulting in a non-binding 'memorandum of understanding' now governing the terms of the teams' income from commercial rights.

"They want to be paid in the same manner as if they had agreed to be committed for five years but they don't want to be committed," Ecclestone, representing F1's owners, is quoted as saying by the Financial Times.

Should their lack of commitment continue, Ecclestone says he will use some of the teams' commercial income to subsidize the race fees paid by circuit operators.

Interestingly, the FT report coincided with reports that the 78-year-old billionaire may have bought the rights to the 2010 British grand prix from the struggling Donington leaseholder Simon Gillett.

The publication said Ecclestone does not rule out acquiring more circuits in the event that he pays the teams less.

Referring to F1's teams, Ecclestone added: "They shouldn't get the prize money.  We are now running more of a cash-on-delivery service.  You sign the contract and we will pay you in full."

For a new Concorde, he said teams want the freedom to leave F1 at their leisure but still be paid at the current higher rate.

Ecclestone said "we should revert back to the deal we originally had - 47 per cent of the television rights – and they can go where they like.  We should be paying a lot less to the teams and charging the circuits a lot less".

McLaren liars no longer with team - Mosley
(GMM)  Ron Dennis' departure appears to have contributed to the 'slap on the wrist' penalty given to McLaren by the World Motor Sport Council.

After Wednesday's 'lie-gate' hearing in Paris, both new team boss Martin Whitmarsh and FIA president Max Mosley indicated that it was the recent departure of more than one McLaren figure that led council members to suspend the intended three-race ban.

"Anyone involved in a decision to mislead the stewards has now left," Whitmarsh - who turned 51 on the same day - was quoted as saying by British newspapers.

Team manager Dave Ryan was sacked over the affair, but until now it has not been clear that Dennis' similar departure was related to his involvement in the handling of the Jarno Trulli safety car incident.

"WMSC members were convinced that the comment (by Whitmarsh) alluded to Dennis' complicity," a writer for the Daily Mail surmised.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Mosley seemed to back Whitmarsh's suggestion that Ryan was not the only person involved in the decision to lie to stewards in Australia and Malaysia.

Responding to claims the suspended ban is a mere slap on the wrist, the FIA president said: "I don't think they escaped lightly because in the end there were decisions taken by people who are no longer involved."

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, also present, said it was Whitmarsh's totally contrite manner in front of the council that "saved" McLaren.

"They got a slap but that was fair.  It's good for everybody," he added.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug also said the suspended ban was a "fair outcome".

Vettel waiting for Shanghai replica trophy
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel had to surrender his winning trophy to employer Red Bull following the recent Chinese grand prix.

It is understood the practice is common in formula one, with contracts usually entitling only replica trophies to the drivers.

Vettel, 21, told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that he is still waiting for his Shanghai replica.

"At least the team is paying for it," he joked.

Webber tells Schu to give bike racing a miss
(GMM)  Mark Webber is surprised that Michael Schumacher's latest fall hasn't put him off motorcycle racing completely.

Although escaping serious injury, former seven time world champion Schumacher fell so heavily while testing in February that he had to call off his participation in this month's opening round of the German Superbike series.

"I too find those machines awesome," Red Bull driver Webber, 32, is quoted as saying by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"But race them?  No thanks," he said.

Like Schumacher, the Australian is a friend of his compatriot Mick Doohan, the retired five time 500cc (MotoGP) champion.

"Mick warned me: until you get it right, you fall badly at least ten times.  If you are young, that's part of your job, but when you're older you wouldn't advise it.

"Michael should listen," Webber said, "because Mick knows what he's talking about."

Ecclestone admits F1 needs a Beckham
(GMM)  F1 may be louder and more glamorous, but the sport cannot compete with football in one area, Bernie Ecclestone has admitted.

The F1 chief executive is well placed to draw comparisons between the world's two most popular sports, as he also co-owns the London club Queens Park Rangers.

This week on a visit to Spain, the 78-year-old hit out at some of F1's stars, including Fernando Alonso, calling them "stupid" for not being more interested in promoting their sport.

He also thinks there are not enough characters: like the elite advertising brand and fashion icon David Beckham.

"In formula one we do not have a Messi," billionaire Ecclestone said, referring to the 21-year-old Argentinean player.

"Or Beckham.  He would be ideal," he is quoted as saying by the El Mundo newspaper.

Ecclestone, contemplating how to encapsulate all the under-represented groups in formula one, then jokingly laid out his dream occupant of a grand prix cockpit.

"Ideally she would be Jewish and black," he said.

Spanish F1 venue hits back at swine flu panic
(GMM)  A spokesman for the Spanish grand prix venue in Barcelona has hit back at claims that thousands of people should not be gathering next weekend amid the risk of a global illness pandemic.

International fear about deadly swine flu stepped into a high gear this week, leading German health minister Ulla Schmidt to remark that "there cannot be a major gathering of 70,000 people if thousands of them could become infected".

The comments were met with anger by organizers of next weekend's formula one race at the Circuit de Catalunya, whose local region Catalonia has been one of the worst hit in Europe in terms of suspected flu infections.

"In the position of a minister you should not be causing alarm to the population.  It's out of place," the spokesman, asked about Schmidt's comments, is quoted as saying by the Spanish sports daily Marca.

All but one of the suspected 177 deaths so far have occurred in Mexico, causing organizers of the open-wheeler series A1GP to cancel next month's race in the country.

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