Formula One Management will pick up the $40 million tab for cancelled GP Hitting back at reports that he waited for Bahrain’s rulers to call off next month’s season-opening race so that he would not miss out on the staging fee, Ecclestone claimed that he is not charging them a penny.
Although FOM’s commercial contracts are normally a closely guarded secret, the 80 year-old said that inaccuracies in what is being reported were such that it was necessary to clarify matters.
“The fee that is normally being paid for the event is not being paid,” Ecclestone said. “I am not charging them for a race they are not getting.
"Whether they are covered by their insurers for loss of revenues, ticket sales etc I am not sure. But if anything is force majeure then that [the political unrest] is.
“It is similar to if an earthquake had struck — no one could have foreseen that a month ago.”
Asked if FOM was indemnified against the loss of the fee, Ecclestone claimed the sport was “not insured for this sort of thing” and would be receiving no money from Bahrain unless it can find a slot for the race later in the calendar.
“If and when it is rescheduled they will pay their usual fee,” he said, confirming that the $40 million figure widely quoted was “close” to the mark.
F1’s revenues are divided up at the end of the year between the various stakeholders and the teams, meaning that unless a new date is found, presumably everyone will miss out.
The claim that FOM is picking up the tab for the Bahrain race will surprise many in the sport who believe that Ecclestone builds clauses into his contracts with race promoters to guard against late cancellations. However, it was not the only thing Ecclestone wished to clarify.
“The $20 million fee that Bahrain supposedly ‘bid’ to stage the first race of the year has been widely and inaccurately reported,” he said. “There has never been an extra fee to stage the first race — or the last race for that matter. We put the calendar together to suit the sport.”
Ecclestone has been criticized in recent days for being insensitive to the political situation in Bahrain. He was forced to backtrack over an interview he gave to the BBC last Friday when he said he hoped the unrest would “blow over”.
However, he claimed that no one had a problem with Bahrain before last week and reiterated that he would try to squeeze the race into a packed calendar later in the year.
“What has happened in Bahrain is desperately sad but one month ago everyone was looking forward to the race,” he said. “No one had a problem with it then.
“If everything is peaceful, which we hope it will be, then we will try our best to fit it in.”
Meanwhile, Ecclestone confirmed that he would not be attending the launch of a new biography about him tomorrow night after the author allegedly “broke promises” made to him. Tom Bower’s book, No Angel, is being serialized in a Sunday newspaper, the first installment of which upset Ecclestone.
“Tom is an excellent investigating journalist and will always try to get the truth,” he said.
“Therefore, I was more than a little disappointed with him when he included in the book matters concerning my family which he agreed he would not. I am sure the book does not need this type of publicity to achieve sales.” The Telegraph