Ferrari and Red Bull to buy part of F1? UPDATE (GMM) Hot on the heels of the new technical controversies, the 2012 season has also kicked off in the sport's high-intrigue world of politics.
A fascinating blog post by Sky News' City editor Mark Kleinman has been pulled from the internet just hours after it went live.
It was about "F1 finance and control allegedly involving Ferrari, Red Bull and (the sport's owner) CVC", according to veteran journalist and broadcaster Maurice Hamilton on Twitter.
"Has someone spoken out of turn?" wondered the Times' Kevin Eason.
The Telegraph's Tom Cary said the rumor is that a $10 billion stock market floatation for F1 could be in the works "with Ferrari (and) Red Bull getting special deals".
"There is no smoke without fire with this one," added Eason. "No wonder Ferrari and Red Bull ditched FOTA."
The document that currently governs F1 and its finances, the Concorde Agreement, runs out this year, and now F1's most famous team - Ferrari - and the reigning world champions are outside the trade union FOTA.
"Coincidence? Highly unlikely," said Cary.
F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone insists no deals have been done yet.
"I'd like to try to do something before the season starts," he said this week. "I don't want it dragging on."
As for his take on FOTA, "Ferrari would never go do a deal with those clowns," the 81-year-old scowled.03/17/12 A website that has been known to be close to Bernie Ecclestone reported this week that we could expect a big announcement soon, and a close aide of the F1 boss confirmed to me with a smile in Australia that news was indeed on its way – and that it involved the structure of the sport and would shake a few people up.
A few team insiders speculated that it might involved Ferrari and Red Bull signing up to a new Concorde Agreement, and Sky News has reported something along similar lines tonight with the suggestion that those teams will have a stake in the ownership of the sport.
This would be linked to a public offering of a sale of CVC’s stake in the sport, which Sky says values the sport at “well over £10bn.”
Sky reports that Ferrari as usual has a special position as the oldest team in the sport, and there’s extra cash for the first team to have won consecutive constructors’ titles since 2008, the team in question being Red Bull. There is also mention of single car customer teams for new entrants.
It’s certainly a logical theory, and if true the next question has to be what deal did or will those teams get as the first signatories, and what is available to everyone else – the FOTA members, essentially. We await developments with interest… Adam Cooper