With F1's biggest names swapping teams and the 2014 championship entering its decisive showdown, the furore over the future of the sport enjoyed a brief sojourn on Thursday. But on Friday, the civil war between angry small teams on one side and Bernie Ecclestone, the grandees and owners CVC on the other will be back on pole position.
A meeting between Ecclestone and the furious Lotus, Force India and Sauber is set to take place in Abu Dhabi, as the teams suspect a concerted effort to drive them out is now well under way. They have now abandoned their boycott threats, but an even bigger threat for Ecclestone and the FIA may have emerged.
Anneliese Dodds, a British politician, has written to the European Commission's competition arm with "grave concerns" about F1's governance, according to the Times newspaper. It follows a letter from the small teams to Ecclestone last week accusing F1 authorities of operating a "cartel" through an inequitable distribution of income and the big team-dominated, rule-making 'Strategy Group'.
"There was an agreement made between F1 and the European Union about competition some years ago and it seems that has not been stuck to," Dodds said. The Times said Dodds' letter follows a dossier having been sent to the EU capital Brussels, revealing secret information about the Strategy Group and how the most powerful teams are also given the bulk of F1's commercial income.
Also of interest to Brussels could be the way in which the FIA, despite its sole role as the sport's regulator of rules and safety, recently concluded a deal with Ecclestone including a 1 per cent shareholding of the commercial rights. Stuck in the middle of the civil war is Williams, a mid-sized private team enjoying a run of form that was granted a place in the controversial Strategy Group due to its history.
Deputy boss Claire Williams confirmed: "We occupy an intermediate position between the two camps. On the one hand, we are sympathetic to the position of the three teams, but we also understand the position of the top teams."
"At the same time, I do not agree when the Strategy Group is called a cartel, as it was formed with the consent of all the teams, including those who are not represented. But for us, the politics are not relevant. We do not come to a race weekend to spend our time in debate. If other teams want to do that, it's their decision," she is quoted by f1news.ru. (GMM)