Breakaway series ‘certain to happen’

The Formula 1 manufacturer-led breakaway series will go ahead come what may and will become F1’s rival or its successor, according to sources. The four car manufacturers behind the GPWC breakaway series (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Renault) are set to leave F1 by 2008 at the latest. A GPWC source revealed to Autosport that the manufacturers are no longer looking for a reconciliation with the owners of F1 (i.e. Bernie Ecclestone).

The companies which control F1 are currently the subject of a legal battle to decide who runs them (see above). Three banks own 75 per cent but they claim that power is in the hands of the Ecclestone family trust which holds the remaining 25 per cent. Irrespective of the outcome of
the legal battle, however, the source says the GPWC is not negotiating with the banks or F1’s management companies to buy into it.

“We will be watching the lawsuit with interest. Whatever happens it won’t stop GPWC pushing ahead with the new series," said the source. “GPWC does not consider buying the banks’ shares as part of its strategy."

The most the GPWC could get from the banks would be a 75 per cent stake in F1 and it would also inherit a complex web of companies based in Jersey, the Netherlands and the UK. By establishing its own series, GPWC has 100 per cent ownership and the simple structure of one company (the recently-appointed marketing group iSe) to develop, manage and sell the commercial rights to the series. Transparency has been a key GPWC objective since it was set up in 2001. GPWC appointed iSe to create its new series and this includes building the commercial, operational, administrative and racing structure.

The main benefit to the teams is that they will have access to all revenue streams from the series and receive a far greater share of the profit than they currently do. Renault team president Patrick Faure said: “Seventy-five or 80 per cent of F1’s profits stay with the ‘Bernie system’, and the teams receive just 20 or 25 per cent. I don’t know any other sport that has that kind of statistic." Autosport Magazine [Editor's Note: One can argue that without Bernie the new GPWC series will fall flat on its face from internal political disagreements between manufacturers and then the teams will be wishing they were still getting Bernie's 20 to 25 percent. See related rumor – will Ecclestone eventually buy Champ Car, rename it to F1 and carry on? Hmm…..]

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