Formula One: Strugglers rule out Austin boycott

Formula One: Strugglers rule out Austin boycott

AUSTIN - Formula One's mid-grid strugglers are determined to carve out a fairer distribution of wealth, but they are not contemplating a boycott of this weekend's United States Grand Prix.

This became clear on Saturday when the team bosses of Force India, Lotus and Sauber dismissed reports suggesting they were prepared to take such drastic action and, instead, emphasised they intend to find a way of reforming F1's business plan.

Lotus owner Gerard Lopez said: "I've just found out about the story (to boycott the race) now, so my answer is no. I've had a meeting with them about the cash distribution and so on and that's it.

"But I'm not aware of this (boycott plan). I don't even know where this comes from and that's the whole point." Lopez added: "I don't think there is an agenda - I sure hope there is none - but things have to drastically change in the next couple of weeks.

"Not because teams are going to be driven away, but because if you don't take a situation like this one seriously, to change something, then you are never going to do it."

He went on: "Listening to people say we have to have a certain amount to compete in the sport, a figure that scares new manufacturers to come in, is ridiculous yet that's the reality of things right now.

"In a sport where $120 million is perceived to be nothing, that is a pretty scary thought. Connected to that there is a lot of frustration because it should not be that way. It's just a catastrophe.

"I look at it as a business person. It's an asset that's worth a lot of money, but it's only worth a lot of money if it has diversity, a bit of everything that has been the fabric of Formula One." The absence of the cash-starved Caterham and Marussia teams at the Circuit of the Americas this weekend has prompted a mini-crisis in the sport.

But the controversy and argument have failed to persuade F1's commercial ring-master Bernie Ecclestone or the leading "big four" teams from contemplating change.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told a news conference late Friday evening: "The teams in F1 today should stay in F1 and they should all look at the situation and come up with a short-term plan, how to have a healthy grid, and a long-term plan.

"We are talking about money distribution which is an issue for the commercial rights holder, and I don't have a solution. I can come up with many ideas which can be short term solutions, but it comes back to the principle that whatever you give to the teams they are going to spend."

At the same time, Lopez added: "Now is the time to say things as they are - Number one: the distribution model of revenues is completely wrong.

"When you've got teams showing up to the championship that get more money, just for showing up, than teams spending a whole season then something is entirely wrong with the whole system and so that cannot be allowed to happen."

Later Saturday, Ecclestone admitted the crisis surrounding the sport was becoming even more complex.

"We must find the best way to solve this problem. I know what's wrong but I don't know what to do to fix things," Ecclestone told reporters.

"We're tied by regulations. If we were in a position to help these teams in trouble, we would, but we do not have the right to do so. The contracts require us to give the same amount to everyone."

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.