Ecclestone gifts Williams £14.5m for staying in F1

Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One commercial director, has told the press he advanced the Williams team £14.5 million after it committed to stay in the series.

Newspaper the Financial Times says Williams made a loss of £50 million over the past two years, but the £14.5 million advance has helped it secure its budget until the end of 2010.

The Financial Times reports that £130 million has been set aside as an incentive for the nine F1 teams to sign the Concorde Agreement, which seals their entry in the series, but which expired at the end of 2007. The teams now race under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreed in 2006 with CVC, the private equity group which controls F1, but this is not legally binding.

Williams has not yet signed the Concorde Agreement, and Ecclestone described the £14.5 million advance as a “pre-payment". Williams, along with the rest of the teams, will be due more money should they sign the contract.

Prize money under the MOU increased from 25 per cent to 50 per cent of the sport’s profits, with payments beginning last year. However Ecclestone has questioned the sense of making the payments without a contract.

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