Sepang - The fight was over with a whimper and not the bang that was expected to blow a division in Formula One.
Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's
chief executive, has formally announced that most of the 12 teams in the
sport have put their names to a new Concorde Agreement, the commercial
deal that binds them to CVC Capital Partners, F1's owners.
He chose the minutes leading up to the final
practice session of the Malaysian Grand Prix to issue a statement on his
official website to clear the air on the future of F1.
This was expected to be a torrid
year in the lead up to the end of the present agreement, with teams
pushing for a better offer than the current deal under which they get
half of the money that flows into the sport.
CVC, a private equity company based in London, gets the other half.
But Ecclestone appears to have been able to
forge deals with all the key players. Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, who
were expected to be the most difficult to persuade, have signed.
'I am very pleased to announce that we have
reached commercial agreements with the majority of the current teams,
including Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull,' Ecclestone's statement said.
At this stage, no one knows and no one is
saying whether this is a capitulation or if Ecclestone and CVC have come
up with a better offer against a background of unease over plans to
float F1 on Singapore's stock exchange.
Key teams' principals, however, claimed that
they were not interested in taking a shareholding in the F1 business if
it was floated, even though it is known that Ferrari have been offered a
Whatever the terms of the latest deal, a
crucial area of uncertainty is on the verge of being removed and without
the vitriol that was feared might split the paddock.