Peace for Formula 1?

Banks make a financing offer to manufacturers

London. The power struggle over the future of Formula One might be over by July if the automaker-backed Grand Prix World Championship accepts an offer from the banks controlling most of F1.

If they do, plans for a rival series might be halted.

Currently, the sole owner of the commercial rights is SLEC, in which Bernie holds a 25 percent stake. The remainder belonged to EM-TV and media mogul Leo Kirch, but because of the financial difficulties of the German media groups, these shares have been pledged to a consortium of Bayrische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers as security against the stockholders' debts.

Automakers providing the engines and much of the financial backing of F1 teams have threatened to start their own racing series by 2007 at the latest, when the so-called Concorde Agreement expires.

F1 would then be managed by the sports departments of DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Ford/Jaguar, Renault and Fiat/Ferrari. Currently, manufacturers finance their racing teams but have little influence on F1 management and receive no direct share of racing profits.

The banks are hoping to reduce their bad debt exposure, Ecclestone is trying to save his life's work and the manufacturers want influence. The latest proposed compromise suggests that in future the teams will receive a bigger share of the marketing profits than the current 47 percent and the banks will receive a share of the total profit, at least for a set period. Max Mosley, president of the international automobile federation FIA, said that it's only a matter of time until an agreement is reached:

"There is no other choice," he said. "Otherwise everyone will end up penniless."

Patrick Faure, who represents Renault in the GPWC committee, said: "Two of the three parties involved have already reached an agreement. It will depend on the third party - the banks - if this will happen or not."

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