Australian Grand Prix CEO Ron Walker "has revealed that he will step down" when F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone gives up F1's driving seat, "and has warned that this could trigger an exodus of top race managers," according to Christian Sylt of AUTO WEEK. Walker, who is also chairman of the Formula One Promoters Association, said, "There will be a number of promoters who will retire when Bernie retires, but I firmly believe the races will stay with the countries. Promoters have a very special relationship with Bernie. He is more of a friend than a business colleague, and they are reaching the same age group. When Bernie retires, then I will retire as well; and a number of other long-standing promoters that have been friends of Bernie's will do also." Walker is a prominent Australian businessman "who was Lord Mayor of Melbourne and chairman of the organizing body for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne." He added, "When Bernie goes, Formula One will change. You won't recognize the sport after Bernie goes because he has done it in his own way as unique as he can. It will be the end of an era. A lot of people say Bernie is the greatest sports promoter in history, and he has formed close personal relationships with promoters over the years." Ecclestone "faces threats of prosecution in Germany over paying the alleged bribe, and last month BayernLB wrote to him demanding $350M in damages because it believes its F1 shares were undervalued. It follows "the conviction in June of former BayernLB Manager Gerhard Gribkowsky" who was "found guilty of receiving the alleged bribe from Ecclestone in return for agreeing to sell the bank's stake in F1 to CVC." Private equity firm CVC, F1's current owner, "has stood by Ecclestone, but it is understood that it would be forced to replace him if he is prosecuted" (AUTO WEEK, 11/27).
Events and Attractions
There will be "no F1 race in France in '13," according to L'EQUIPE, after the French tracks missed their application deadlines. The French Federation of Automobile Sport (FFSA) did not receive any "application demand to present at the next FIA Council meeting" scheduled for early December. The deadline for either the Castellet circuit or Magny-Cours to turn in their application demands was Tuesday (L'EQUIPE, 11/27). SPORT 24's Aurélien Billot reported that neither circuit "was able to finalize its project on time." Castellet circuit ambassador Alain Prost said, "The deadline passed. It's technically impossible for 2013. Two things were missing. A true will from Bernie Ecclestone to come back, to bring back a Grand Prix to Europe. And, naturally, the financial side. A Grand Prix in France cannot welcome as many spectators as some other countries" (SPORT 24, 11/28).
Officials of the Malaysian Sepang Int'l Cirucit "are open to consider the possibility of alternating their F1 Grand Prix on an annual basis starting in '15 with the Grand Prix of Singapore," according to Falko Schoklitsch of MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN. Sepang's current deal with F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone runs until '15, and due to shrinking attendance numbers race promoters "are not sure if they want to extend their contract." Sepang Int'l Circuit CEO Razlan Razali recently said that "F1's restriction for race promoters are too high, which makes it difficult to create any attractions that would help to draw fans to the track." Having with Singapore a highly attended F1 race in relatively close proximity "does not help Sepang either." Razali said, "Malaysia and Singapore are in the same region, and I think it is bad for Singapore and Malaysia [that the two circuits are so close to each other]. I believe we can attract more people if Malaysia and Singapore would alternate instead of taking place in the same year" (MOTORSPORT MAGAZIN, 11/27).
Liquidators revealed that "an F1 Grand Prix at the financially struggling Nürburgring racetrack is back in the realm of possibilities after private racetrack operator NAG and the bankrupt, state-owned Nürburgring GmbH agreed to a compromise," according to the SID. Liquidator Thomas Schmidt said, "Now the NAG has to reach a contract with [F1 CEO] Bernie Ecclestone. If the NAG is unsuccessful, we will immediately talk with Mr. Ecclesteone." The new compromise allows the NAG to continue negotiations with Ecclestone about an F1 Grand Prix at the Nürburgring in '13. In February, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which owns 90% of the Nürburgring GmbH, early terminated its lease contract with the NAG that was supposed to run until '40. Schmidt said, "Through the compromise, we've established the foundations for a legal and future orientated utilization of the Nürburgring for one or multiple investors" (SID, 11/28).
The Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) has revealed that the Professional Cycling Council has accepted the request filed by Italian media company RCS to modify the dates of the Milano-Sanremo and Il Lombardia events in '13. The two races will both take place on a Sunday: March 17 for Milano-Sanremo and Oct. 6 for Il Lombardia (UCI). ... The first Twenty20 World Cup for the blind "will witness nine countries battling it out for the trophy" in India from Dec. 2-13. Besides hosts India, Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Nepal will participate in the tournament, which is a "joint effort by Bangalore-based NGO, Samarthanam and Cricket Association for the Blind in India" (PTI, 11/28). ... The Asian Football Confederation Competitions Committee awarded the hosting rights of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup to Maldives (AFC).