- F1 Ownership
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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says the future of the sport is in the teams' hands and has warned that a breakaway series is one possible course of action available to them.
The Concorde Agreement binds the teams to Formula One's current owners, CVC Capital Partners, until the end of 2012. However, when that contract expires Montezemolo says there will be three options open to F1, two of which do not involve CVC.
"I think we have to be very pragmatic," Montezemolo said in an interview with CNN. "At the end of 2012, the contracts of every single team with CVC will expire. So, we have three alternatives. We renew with CVC, or we theoretically - as the basketball teams did in the U.S. with great success - we create our own company, like the NBA. Just to run the races, the TV rights and so on. And third, to find a different partner."
Late last year Montezemolo made a similar statement but Bernie Ecclestone, who works on behalf of CVC, responded: "Luca's a lovely guy but he likes to say these things and then he forgets what he is saying."
However, set against the background of News Corporation and Exor, an Italian investment company with close ties to Ferrari, showing an interest in buying the sport, Montezemolo's comments should carry added weight. The Ferrari president said ultimately the teams would decide on the sport's future.
"Bernie Ecclestone did a very good job but he has already sold out three times, so he doesn't own the business anymore," Montezemolo added. "It is CVC that will sell. It will be the teams' decisions. At the end of 2012, the contract will expire, so theoretically CVC doesn't own anything. I think it is important to have alternatives. We will see. We have time to do it."
The teams have already made clear that they are looking to gain a bigger share of F1's profits when it comes to negotiating the next Concorde Agreement, but they are also looking for greater investment in the future of the sport. Montezemolo said there were several areas that he feels need more attention.
"We have to invest in the USA," he said. "We have to improve new technologies in F1 for the people watching the television, for iPad, for the internet. So I think we are in front of a very important moment.
"We will race in Russia and India. F1, thanks also to Bernie Ecclestone, has become a worldwide sport. Now we have to find the best solution. It is important to invest for the future and the other teams."
Montezemolo also criticised the new rules for 2011, which on the whole have been well received.
"We have gone too far with artificial elements," he said. "It's like, if I push footballers to wear tennis shoes in the rain. To have so many pit-stops - listen, I want to see competition, I want to see cars on the track. I don't want to see competition in the pits.
"A little bit, yes - but in the last race there were 80 pit stops. Come on, it's too much. And the people don't understand anymore because when you come out of the pits you don't know what position you're in.
"I think we have gone too far with the machines, too many buttons. The driver is focusing on the buttons, when you have the authorization to overtake. We have gone too far.
"Ferrari will push a lot with the authority - with the respect that we have to the federation and the other teams - to avoid going too far with F1. Because I think it can create problems for the television people and on the racetrack."