Sports News

Williams joins calls for fairer share of F1 pot

LONDON (Reuters) - Williams said it will seek a more even distribution of revenues under Formula One’s next commercial agreement, joining calls by other teams ahead of negotiations to replace deals that expire in 2020.

Formula One - Bahrain Grand Prix - Sakhir, Bahrain - 01/04/16 - McLaren Formula One driver, Jenson Button of Britain leaves the pitlane during the second practice. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed. -

“We have to bide our time,” deputy team principal Claire Williams told reporters on Monday after the former world champions published 2015 results showing significant improvement in revenues.

“I imagine we will all start negotiating new terms ... well ahead of 2020 and I hope that a revision and a re-distribution is something that’s tabled as part of those discussions.”

Formula One teams have individual deals with the commercial rights holder CVC, represented by Bernie Ecclestone, which replaced the confidential ‘Concorde Agreement’ that previously governed the way the sport is run and revenues shared out.

Struggling smaller F1 teams like Sauber and Force India have long argued that the distribution is skewed in favor of leading manufacturers, who receive special payments regardless of how they perform on the track.

Figures obtained by showed that Ferrari, the only team to have been in the championship since 1950 and the most successful, are in line for a $70 million special payment in 2016.

That, combined with revenues dictated by performance and a championship bonus, means Ferrari will be paid a total of $192 million.

That is $20 million more than champions Mercedes and compares to $87 million coming to Williams for finishing third in the past two seasons -- beating Ferrari in 2014 and Red Bull last year.

Asked about the figures, Williams said all the teams had signed up to the current terms but hoped the landscape would change.

“I very much hope so because I am a firm believer that sports should have equitable platforms to be successful,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have an issue if Ferrari got a heritage payment, but not as great as it is.”

Williams Grand Prix Holdings, which includes the F1 team, reported revenue of 125.6 million pounds ($178.2 million) last year compared to 90.2 million in 2014. The operating loss (EBITDA) narrowed to 3.3 million pounds from 37 million.

The increase in revenue was due mainly to increased commercial rights and sponsorship income after a successful 2014 season. Income from the commercial rights holder is paid a year in arrears.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by John Stonestreet