The big whisper in the paddock is that there is about to be a big development in the Concorde Agreement negotiations. This can really only mean one thing: that the non-FOTA teams have thrown in their lot with the Formula One group and have done their own deals, rather than trying to get more from collective bargaining. I am hearing that Ferrari and Red have both agreed to be paid a premium, based on their importance to F1. With Ferrari one can understand such a deal. It is the only F1 team that Formula One needs to have on its side and in the past it has always done deals that suit it, rather than what is best for the sport. This is how the team ended up getting 2.5 percent of the entire team prize fund, in addition to the same breakdowns as the other teams. This equates to an annual payment of around $20 million more than the others. Ferrari has the power to negotiate such deals and one has to accept that this is perhaps a better idea than getting into a fight trying to reduce the sums which are ripped out of the sport by the financiers behind the Formula One group. It makes no real sense for the sport to allow the money to disappear, but as the teams are incapable of either working together or taking control of the commercial rights themselves then they must pay the penalty for their lack of nous. One cannot blame Ecclestone of trying to get the best deal possible, although one can argue that as a fan of the sport he really ought to be interested in putting something back to help develop it at different levels all over the world. He would argue that this is not his job and until someone else get control of the commercial decision-making that is how it will remain.
Red Bull has none of the historical clout of Ferrari, but it has been winning for the last couple if years, although no-one who has been around F1 for a while believes that the Austrian drinks company will stay forever. F1 is a means to an end but as money is no object and it is easier to win if you spend more than your opposition, Red Bull has positioned itself so that it can a better pay-off from the Formula One group. If the deals have now now been done, there will now follow the same process we have seen in the past with an announcement and then the crumbling of the other teams, who have no power without Ferrari. The irony of course is that the people who most need the money that F1 generates are the middle-ranking teams who would be much better off if they were getting a share of 85 percent of the F1 revenues, rather than the current figure, which is still less than 50 percent.
It means that a bunch of bankers will once again be able to suck money out of the business and put nothing of any value back in. Te next step once the Concorde Agreement is finished will be the sale to a new owner, or the launch of another massive loan that will result in F1 remaining a cash cow for the next five to 10 years. Timing is everything, of course, and a key deciciding factor in this will probably be Luca di Montezemolo’s desire to get Ferrari sorted out so he can focus on his nexty challenge, which is to be Italy’s Prime Minister. That programme is now gearing up and so it is the right moment for a deal to be struck.
Now Ferrari had done this before back in 2005 but Red Bull? It'll be a very interesting year to watch both on- and off-trackwise.