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Monday, June 22, 2009

FOTA's "New Formula" eyes 17-race calendar

Rumours that plans for FOTA's breakaway championship are moving forwards abounded on Sunday.

In the paddock of the Silverstone circuit, even a possible name for the series emerged - 'New Formula' - as well as a potential 17-race 2010 calendar.

Former F1 venues including Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Jerez, Imola, Montreal, Indianapolis, Silverstone, Magny Cours and Adelaide were listed on the theoretical calendar, published by the German news agency SID.

Current tracks were also mentioned: Monaco, Silverstone, Monza, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Suzuka, while potential new venues are Jerez, Portimao, the Lausitzring, Surfer's Paradise (Australia) and even the Finnish capital Helsinki.

But while some suggest that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is moving towards the rebel team's plans, he told Britain's Daily Star newspaper on Sunday that he fears for the breakaway.

Despite earlier sympathising with the teams' dislike of the proposed budget cap, he now believes unfettered spending "could be the curse of our sport".

"It could ruin it. It would be a disaster and they'd destroy the sport," he said.

"I would hate to see any kind of takeover happen because it would be badly managed. They can't even run their own teams. They can't agree on anything. If the teams owned it they would destroy it," Ecclestone, 78, added.

He also scoffed at the leaked FOTA calendar, wondering how the body can compete with the structure operated by his businesses.

"We organise the venues which don't cost the teams a penny," said Ecclestone. "I reckon Ferrari and McLaren need us more than we need them.

"All they have to do is pitch up at a track with their sponsors' names all over their cars in exchange for millions of quid and race in front of a worldwide television audience -- which I have set up and keep going.

"The bottom line is they can't afford to set up a rival championship," he added.

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