Ecclestone’s response to Montezemolo is an attempt to break FOTA’s unity

2009 F1 season

Ecclestone called the Ferrari president a \"press officer\"

Ecclestone called the Ferrari president a "press officer"

When Bernie Ecclestone has something to say, he calls the The Times:

Ferrari get so much more money than everyone else. They know exactly what they get, they are not that stupid, although they are not that bright, either. They get about $80 million (about £54 million) more. When they win the constructors’ championship, which they did this year, they got $80 million more than if McLaren had won it.

This is an extract from his response to Luca di Montezemolo’s seating criticism of Ecclestone’s governance of F1 earlier this week. It’s the usual belligerent stuff from Ecclestone, and it suggested Montezemolo and FOTA have got him rattled.

Montezemolo first made clear his unhappiness with Ecclestone’s running of F1 following the Singapore Grand Prix. But he was only ever going to look foolish criticising an event many considered a triumph, at which Ferrari had performed embarrassingly poorly, and Ecclestone slapped him down with a withering comeback.

This time Montezemolo’s punches seem to be hitting their mark. Earlier this week he revealed FOTA’s determination to follow up the cost cuts agreed with Max Mosley with an increase in revenue for the teams. In terms of reducing the financial burden of competing in F1, cutting costs and increasing revenues are two sides of the same coin.

Ecclestone’s reaction following Singapore was to ridicule Ferrari’s performance in the race. This time he is trying to ridicule Ferrari by pointing to the fact that, the last time the teams united to try to extract more favourable terms from Ecclestone, in 2005, Ferrari was the first team to switch and netted themselves an extra $80m by doing so (which was known at the time).

What is particularly astonishing in Ecclestone’s latest remarks are the dark hints about ‘general help’ given to Ferrari:

The only thing [Montezemolo] has not mentioned is the extra money Ferrari get above all the other teams and all the extra things Ferrari have had for years – the ‘general help’ they are considered to have had in Formula One.

If Ecclestone is admitting the FIA bends the rules in favour of Ferrari (like when one of their cars is released from the pits ‘unsafely’, or they get overtaken by a rival) expect a thundering denunciation from Max Mosley, probably in tomorrow’s Sunday Telegraph if not sooner.

But that’s probably not what Ecclestone is saying – this is a reaction calculated to try to discredit Montezemolo and weaken his position as president of FOTA. It’s ‘divide and conquer’ once again – precisely the tactics Montezemolo says FOTA is immune to.

Ecclestone is banking on the teams continuing to object to Ferrari getting a greater share of the pot. However if Montezemolo has already persuaded his FOTA cohorts that Ferrari is an essential part of F1 and deserves that extra money, Ecclestone has one fewer weapon to use against him.

Read more: FOTA wants more money for F1 teams – it should get some for circuits too

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45 comments on Ecclestone’s response to Montezemolo is an attempt to break FOTA’s unity

  1. Oliver said on 20th December 2008, 18:56

    Its really getting dirty out there now.
    We always knew about this money Ferrari was getting, but now its just made clear for those who always felt all teams were treated equally.
    How is it then possible for the other teams to keep up with Ferrari when they are already miles ahead. As it is, Ferrari can come dead last as probably even earn as much or even more than the winner of the constructors title.

    Bernie is right, Ferrari sound like hypocrites with that statement. Even if the more money goes to the teams, Ferrari can’t expect to get more than they are already collecting.

  2. Oliver said on 20th December 2008, 19:00

    Sean I was thinking along those deficit lines too. The actual deficit is probably even greater then that, if you consider Mclaren lost out on second place in the constructors title.

  3. Sean, a Ferrari fan could say to you that Mclaren only had a competitive car for this season thanks to spying. And maybe Mclaren might consider that $100 million (minus deductions) well spent. Lucky I’m not a Ferrari fan. But people do support Ferrari because they do. Same as people do support Mclaren because they do. That’s the nature of the fan. And obviously it’s the nature of Formula One teams to take any opportunity to gain an advantage. Some teams stab the GPMA in the back, others attempt to use stolen secrets.

  4. Why oh why do we continue to support such a corrupt outfit
    clearly Moseley has bent the rules on countless occasions for Ferrari and Bernie sucks so much money out of the sport that he can buy off Ferrari..unbelievable. The sooner Bernie and Moseley are history the better.

  5. Flip & Fill said on 20th December 2008, 23:32

    This may be nothing new to seasoned F1 fans but this article was in The Times and will be repeated in the mainstream press for the next few days.

    Had it been in Autosport then it’d probably only come to the attention of motorsport fans so wouldn’t make much difference, once it’s in the mainstream press it comes to the attention of the casual fans and all of the potential fans in Britain that Lewis’s success could bring to F1 next season.

    This is the real concern here, most of “us” know what’s going on and it either confirms our suspicions or is irrelevant, for the casual or potential fan this could be something new & very shocking.
    It makes the “sport” look corrupt and this could be enough to put these people off and the last thing we need is viewing figures dropping off at a time when sponsors & teams are already walking away from F1.

    Too Good – I’m a fan of WWE and I think Vince McMahon has done a much better job at promoting his brand than Bernie has done with F1.
    WWE now visits almost every country in the world at least once every two years and I see someone wearing a piece of WWE merchandise almost every day, they give a lot back to their fans & the stadiums (stadia ??) they visit always make a profit.

    Maybe Bernie should go ask him how he’s achieved it.

  6. The whole thing can crash and burn, as far as I’m concerned.

    Toby – what you say about fans being fans is exactly right but not every F1 follower is a Ferrari OR McLaren partisan and surely no impartial observer can look at this “we bought Ferrari” story and be anything other than simply disgusted?

    To the concerns expressed above about losing more “casual” fans since this is in the mainstream press – I’m not sure why I should care. I can’t see why it would not be a good thing if this entire corrupt, disgraceful house of cards came tumbling down and something else rose from the ashes, sans Max, Alan, Bernie and their cronies. It would be, simply, great, and there are people who can run a race series in this world. There will always be huge demand for a premier racing series so “F1″ (by some name) will always exist.

    The teams have all been kept feeding at the trough for way too long. For me the only meaning in recent years has been in seeing the giant slayers like Hami in ’08 or Alonso in ’06 beating the uber-favoured team in charge IN SPITE of everything stacked against them. But it hasn’t been a real competition for years. If the global economic downturn has a silver lining for me, this will be it – revelations like today’s and hopefully a major, major shake-up at the top. Bring it on. Let’s see some damage.

  7. Flip & Fill said on 21st December 2008, 0:15

    I understand your position Sean, personally I’d prefer FOTA to get their act together & demand the necessary changes be made to F1.

    I’d quite happily follow any breakaway series or any new series that rose from the ashes of F1 if you were to get your wish and few things would make me happier than to see the end of Bernie & Spankies reign of terror within F1. I’d just be sad to see it all collapse, it’s been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.

  8. ok so Im lost. really.totally. is it only me who felt that Hamilton (from Macca ;))was favoured in 2007? because I keep hearing about Ferrari all the time. Sean?

  9. theRoswellite said on 21st December 2008, 0:57


    I think Mr. Ecclestone is showing a bit of discomfort over this issue.

    Why else would he trash, publicly, the most famous team in his own series? Perhaps just trying to keep the troops in formation? And didn’t he, again to the media, disparage Honda for leaving F1.

    Strange behavior from one, so normally in control of the moment.

    Maybe we need to show him more understanding, as the true fans we are, considering his financial problems of late.

  10. Manatcna said on 21st December 2008, 1:27

    Ferrari getting extra help?

    Like we didn’t already know that

  11. As a long time F1 fan (as most of us, since as long as I can remember), I always see the same pattern on F1 management.-

    F1 always favors what sells the most. This year (and 2007 from my point of view) the sensation Lewis Hamilton brought to the sport, made Ecclestone team up on his side, but as said above, Ferrari is still the major team and almost a synonym to “Formula 1″.-

    So F1 will always favor their “Stars”. And this “fight” between LDM and Eccleston is no other thing than their negotiation tactics to retain their star rating.-

  12. Lots of banks are currently getting a shakeup (or a shakedown?).

    I hope this spat sees Bernie and CVC (or is it CCV?) ousted from control. It has been stated on the Pitpass wesbsite that 50% of all F1 revenue goes to the rights holder and most of their earnings is spent on interest on its loans. Get rid of them and teams and circuit owners could earn or save $1 in every $2.

    Millions of people are losing their houses in the global depression. Maybe it’s time that CVC/CCV lost their little house of cards and we got back to some serious, un-manipulated racing.

  13. HounslowBusGarage said on 21st December 2008, 9:15

    This is the last sentence quoted from Montemolla’s (sic) criticism of the current F1 commercial rights holder-
    “Do you think it is normal that we pay unbelievable amounts for hospitality to promote ourselves at the races?”
    Can anyone explain what it means?

  14. Flip & Fill: Your WWE reference (Comment 20) got me to thinking. Doesn’t the public sniping between Bernie and Luca sound like the pre-match hype between two wrestlers?

    This will either go away quickly or drag on through the preseason as the ultimate silly season entertainment.

    And could Bernie’s “favortism” comment have also been a reference of Spanky’s over the top “punishment” of McLaren over Spygate, not to mention Max’s down playing of Renault’s far worse transgressions???

    I don’t mean to re-argue the merits of those points, we all have our opinions, but I have to wonder if Bernie knows the inside story of Spygate and any possible Ferrari complicity. Hence his comments about favoritism.

    When it comes to possible conspiracy I tend to run deep!! Can’t wait to read Luca’s responses.

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st December 2008, 14:33

    Hounslow – the teams get to use the Paddock Club to entertain the sponsors. It’s very expensive, it gives their guests a slap-up meal and a good place to watch the action from. I went to the Ferrari club at Silverstone on the Friday, this post has some pictures:

    Inside the Paddock Club with Ferrari

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