F1 teams must stay united, says Renault`s Boullier

Updated: May 06, 2011, 09:04 AM IST

Istanbul: Formula One teams must stick together in discussions about the sport`s future ownership and direction, Renault team boss Eric Boullier said.

The Frenchman was speaking as the Turkish Grand Prix paddock buzzed with talk of a possible bid for Formula One by media group News Corp and Exor, the financial holding of Italy`s Agnelli family which controls glamour team Ferrari through carmaker FIAT.

Media reports have suggested that representatives of the top teams -- Ferrari, multiple title holders McLaren, reigning champions Red Bull and Mercedes -- were planning to meet News Corp executives next week.

"I think everybody is a bit nervous now because (of) some news like this," Boullier told reporters when asked why his team, no longer owned by the French carmaker whose name it retains, had seemingly been left out.

"But actually if it has been released, that means this (the meeting) is not secret anymore and maybe not going down that path.”

"There is a lot of talk around the new Concorde Agreement and obviously this news that has been released that some people could be interested in buying some share in F1. That makes a lot of stories I guess," he added.

The confidential Concorde Agreement between the teams, governing International Automobile Federation and commercial rights holder expires at the end of 2012 and is being renogotiated.

Last time the agreement was up for renewal, when manufacturers dominated the sport, Ferrari and some other Formula One teams threatened to set up their own `breakaway` series before a new deal was signed giving them more of the revenues.

Power Struggle

Fresh divisions over money and technology, the lifeblood of Formula One, have become apparent in recent months with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo speaking out publicly against plans by the FIA to introduce a new 1.6 litre four cylinder turbocharged engine in 2013.

Montezemolo revived talk of a rival series only last December when he told reporters "in the end we can always find a different promoter" and some see a possible News Corp partnership as part of that strategy.

Commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone is also against the engine changes, while Renault are in favour, in what some see as the renewal of an old power struggle between the 80-year-old and Frenchman Jean Todt`s FIA.

"We all know there is some difference of interests of FOM (the CVC-owned Formula One Management run by Ecclestone) and the FIA," said Boullier.

"It is the usual game. We have to sit down this weekend, we have a lot of meetings together and we have a FOTA (teams` association) meeting as well so we will see.”

"It`s always tricky for everybody to sit around one table and discuss about common points of interest when you speak about sharing some revenues and stuff like this," added Boullier.

"So we expect it not to be an easy job, but we will see how it goes. I don`t think we are at the point to speak about there being a breakaway series and stuff like that, I think we need to first focus on being FOTA, all teams together."

Boullier said Formula One teams needed to think more `globally`.

"We have to compete against sports like football and the Olympic Games and others which have developed drastically in terms of business," he said.

"I think this little war inside the paddock is maybe fun for some journalists and some people, but to be honest for me it`s not."

Bureau Report