Future Of F1 Hinges On FIA Presidential Election As Ward Challenges Todt
F1 management faces "the potential for huge change in the next few months," as December's FIA presidential election will be "contested by two strong candidates with very different agendas," according to James Allen of the FINANCIAL TIMES. FIA President Jean Todt "knows that he faces a strong challenge" from David Ward, a former policy adviser to late Labour Party leader John Smith. Ward previously served as FIA Institute Director-General, and is "an ally" of former FIA President Max Mosley. Todt while in office "has not behaved the way" Mosley and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone had imagined. Todt has challenged Ecclestone "robustly on a range of issues such as the introduction of hybrid engines and revenue sharing." The leading team officials "backed Todt in a recent press conference, calling for continuity at the top of the FIA." But the teams "have no vote in the election." Ward has "powerful backers in the Middle East and is playing an aggressive game, questioning Todt’s probity, accusing him of violating FIA statutes." Ward’s platform "includes a modernisation of the FIA, including downgrading the role of president to a figurehead while handing control to a paid chief executive." Ward "wants to keep the FIA based in Paris, rather than move it to Geneva, where Todt plans to build a new headquarters." Ward also is "calling for the FIA to be fully financially transparent." Todt has been "very active in office in many areas, most notably in road safety with the joint UN/FIA campaign 'Decade of Action.'" He also has been "involved in the empowerment and training of the motorsport federations of many developing nations." But Todt has been "accused by some team bosses of being weak," as they "wanted him to stand up to one of the more powerful teams, Red Bull Racing, in the area of cost control" (FT.com, 9/20).
DOLLARS & SENSE: Ecclestone said of the division of revenues between F1 commercial rights holder CVC Capital and F1 teams, "They get 62 percent. The difference is, we control what we spend, and they can’t. Because if you look at it, very few of them are business people. If you look at their history and what they've done, it's pretty clear. They spend too much, it's as simple as that. All of the teams in Formula One, including the ones at the back of the grid, could and should be making a very good profit. I can’t help them. If you give all of them 25 percent more next year, you’d be sitting here with me at the end of next year with the same stories" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/20). Meanwhile, the AFP's Talek Harris reported Ecclestone on Saturday "insisted plans for a multi-billion dollar initial public offering in Singapore are still very much on despite a lengthy delay in the process." Ecclestone said that he was "'sure' Formula One would float on the city-state's exchange as soon as the timing is right" (AFP, 9/22).