Sports News

Motor racing-Ecclestone dismisses talk of rival F1 series

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone dismissed revived talk of teams moving to set up their own rival series after 2012 as “complete nonsense” on Friday.

The Concorde Agreement governing the commercial side of the sport expires at the end of 2012 and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo suggested at a media lunch on Thursday that the teams could walk away if they did not get a lot more money.

Ecclestone, now 80 but still very much in control of the sport, told Reuters he paid little attention to the comments from Ferrari headquarters at Maranello.

“It’s what he (Montezemolo) says every time he goes to Monza every year,” he said. “‘We need more money’. It’s all nonsense.

“They’re not going to break away. They’ve tried it all before. Luca’s a lovely guy but he likes to say these things and then he forgets what he is saying,” added the Briton, who said he was recovering well from a recent mugging outside his London offices.

Montezemolo, a leading light in the Formula One Teams’ Association who threatened a rival series last year only to agree a deal with Ecclestone and the governing FIA days later, told reporters at Maranello that Formula One was at a crossroads.

“We have Formula One in our hearts and minds but we do not want to be locked in a Formula One prison,” he declared.

The Italian outlined three scenarios, the first being a continuation with Ecclestone and rights holders CVC Capital Partners.

“For me the presence of the rule of Bernie is a priority because Formula One cannot be ruled by the Stock Exchange,” he said. “We need people with credibility, personality and experience.

“But in the end we can always find a different promoter. At the end of the day this business is not so complicated.”

Montezemolo said the other scenarios were to find new owners but the same business model or, thirdly, to promote their own championship.

Editing by Dave Thompson; To query or comment on this story