Ecclestone to sue Ferrari, other FOTA teams UPDATE #4 In a letter sent to Ferrari on 8th June the FIA said: “Ferrari... has already breached its agreement with the FIA by threatening to withdraw from the Championship. The instability that this has caused continues to give rise to damage.” On Friday it announced legal proceedings were under way.
Ferrari’s response is that it has “no contractual obligation” to remain in F1. The car company says that it has an agreement with FOTA to extend the Concorde, and to stay in F1 until the end of 2012 but this is conditional on the FIA accepting the extension which it claims it has not done.
CVC has a lot to lose from a split. It got $2.1bn in debt from Royal Bank of Scotland to buy FOTA in 2006 and its annual interest payments now come to $260m. The sport’s running costs are around $300m annually so if it fails to make $560m in revenues it will not be able to meet its liabilities.
06/20/09 This rumor is upgraded to very 'strong' today. Bernie Ecclestone will shortly also commence legal action against rebel formula one teams threatening to set up a breakaway series.
The governing FIA on Friday announced that it is suing the eight FOTA teams, with a particular emphasis on Ferrari, but Max Mosley said at Silverstone that it is Ecclestone's impending actions they should be most worried about.
"Bernie, as the commercial rights holder, will sue them too," the FIA president told the Mirror.
Mosley said the FIA's action will focus on breach of contracts and also competition law violations.
"There is a quite a lot of money at stake for us but for Bernie it is a massive amount of money," he said. "The teams will all owe him money."
Mosley said every team in the FOTA group has been paid commercial revenues for the coming seasons in advance, so Ecclestone will be asking for it back.
"In the case of one team, that would be in excess of 100m pounds (sterling). In every other case, it is tens of millions of pounds," he said.
The political crisis has been characterized by some as a push for the heads not only of Mosley, but Ecclestone too. But Mosley insists it has little to do with the individual figureheads.
"They want to grab the money and the sporting power. Well, I won't let them grab the sporting power and Bernie won't let them grab the money," he insisted.06/11/09 Bernie Ecclestone has warned FOTA's members that if they start a breakaway championship he won't hesitate to sue them for "hundreds of millions of pounds".
With the FIA set to publish next year's entry list on Friday, time is running out for the teams and the FIA to find a solution to the on-going political war.
However, the FOTA teams, which include all the existing outfits barring Williams and Force India, have made it clear that if their two conditions - next year's championship to run under the same rules as this year's and for a new Concorde Agreement to be signed by June 12th - aren't met, they will start their own series.
Ecclestone, though, has warned them they could face heavy legal action should they do so.
"If they do try to set up their own series - and I don't think they will be able to - there are big problems ahead for them," he told the Daily Express.
"Apart from my contracts with teams, if somebody went to any of our contracted people, companies, television contractors, we would view it very seriously.
"That would be inducement to breach contracts and I don't do that myself so I won't stand back and let it happen. Any action could run to hundreds of millions of pounds, who knows how much?"05/22/09 Undeterred by its defeat in a French court earlier this week that saw it fail to gain an injunction against the FIA’s controversial £40 million budget cap for Formula 1, Ferrari has insisted that it is ‘not worried’ and has contended that the governing body ‘broke’ the Concorde Agreement in implementing the new regulations.
“We are not worried,” a Ferrari spokesman is quoted as having said by the Daily Telegraph. “The court recognized the validity of the Concorde Agreement, and we are now deciding whether or not to continue with our legal action. We are hoping it will not come to this and that we can find a way forward.
“Ultimately, if the Concorde Agreement is binding, then the FIA broke it when they changed the sporting rules without respecting the agreed procedures, which state that only the F1 Commission can do so.” 05/22/09 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone in Monaco issued a veiled threat to sue Ferrari should the famous Italian team pull out of formula one at the end of the season.
After the Paris court action earlier this week, an interesting detail to come out of the verdict was its reinforcement of the binding nature of the commercial agreement in force between Ferrari, the FIA, and its commercial rights holder.
Friday is traditionally a 'free day' at the Monaco grand prix, but as official entries for the 2010 championship opened, word filled the media centre that the warring Max Mosley and Luca di Montezemolo were making their way to the Principality from Paris and Maranello respectively.
"We would always respect our contracts," F1 chief executive Ecclestone said in Monaco.
"All the teams that have signed contracts with us would expect us to respect them and we would expect the same from Ferrari. They are saying they are going to walk, we are saying we hope they respect their contract," the Briton added.
Ecclestone, 78, is believed to have concurrently written to di Montezemolo warning that if Ferrari breaks its contract by quitting the sport, he would be entitled to claim back millions in commercial revenues already paid.
On the surface, this crisis is headlined by the argument about budget caps, but sources are increasingly convinced that a ceasefire would be declared if Mosley simply stepped down.
But the FIA president's right hand man Richard Woods said the sport is lucky to have him.
"He's never blinked," said Woods, referring to 69-year-old Mosley. "The teams have got a strong leader of a strong governing body and he is playing hardball, as he always has."