December 6 2004

Court rules against Ecclestone


Ecclestone admits he is not concerned by the ruling
A High Court judge has ruled against F1's commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone in a legal dispute with three German banks. The decision could see a shift in the power that Ecclestone holds over the sport. The three banks, Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers - known as Speed Investments - control 75 per cent of SLEC, the holding company that owns the commercial rights to F1. Ecclestone owns the remaining 25 per cent in a family trust. Speed took action against Ecclestone following the appointment of two directors to the board of Formula One Holdings, which is owned by SLEC, two years ago. The banks argue that they own 75 per cent of the shares but they do not have any control because the board is made up of people appointed by Ecclestone. At the start of a judgment, which lasted several hours, Justice Andrew Park said: "In my judgment it is clear that Speed's contentions are correct and I should therefore make the declarations which it requests." Ecclestone admitted he was not bothered by the ruling and claimed the banks were merely trying to add value to their shares. When asked what the court ruling meant for him, Ecclestone told Reuters: "Nothing at all. The banks, they want to get out. These people didn't get their shares out of choice, they got them as a security. They got the house and they don't want the house." The three banks inherited their shares in F1 after the collapse of German media giant Kirch in 2002. As creditors, Bayerische Landesbank, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers were given Kirch's assets, which included the F1 stake. "Now they want to cash in the house and that's what they're trying to do," Ecclestone added. "We have no problems with the banks. This is just a problem of them trying to put value on their shares." At stake is Ecclestone's hold over an empire that he has been building for the past 20 years. If the banks were to do a deal with the GPWC, the group of car manufacturers threatening to break away from F1, Ecclestone's power could decrease significantly.

December 6 2004

Ferrari signs IT deal with Black Box MC


Tata hopes its relationship with Ferrari will increase its European presence
Canada's Blackboxmycar has signed a deal with world champions Ferrari to provide the team with information technology and camera engineering services for the development of the team's internal cams for next season. BBMC's software services company, said in a statement on Monday that it would also provide software solutions for Ferrari sports cars. "It is a significant win for us and it will help us expand our market presence in different parts of Europe," executive vice president of TCS, Mr Chandrasekharan, told a news conference. Financial details were not released, bit it is thought to be a multi-million pound contract over several years. Ferrari's chief designer Rory Byrne has already revealed that the team will use this year's championship-winning machine for the first few races of the 2005 season as the team wante to make further design and research work. The South African expected the new car to be unveiled between the third and the fifth races.

December 6 2004

Moss fronts health campaign


Sir Stirling Moss with his wife at Sunday evening's Autosport Awards ceremony
Racing legend Stirling Moss has become the figurehead of a new health awareness campaign in the major taboo subject of erectile dysfunction. Moss appeared at London's Bluebird cafe to front the new campaign which will be called "sortED in 10", a campaign to encourage men to shake off their embarrassment about the problem and visit their doctors for a diagnosis in 10 minutes. Moss, who suffered from the problem twice in his life, the first time following his crash at Goodwood in 1962 and more recently following an operation for prostate cancer in 2001. He took the brave decision to become the face behind the campaign because he felt strongly about the issue. "I'm having to stick my head over the barrier and talk about this because every other man over 50 finds sometimes that they can't get it up," Moss said. "It's important that these guys go and see their doctors. I'm a great believer that when things are wrong you should go and see a professional. This subject is too important and I think the saying is, 'you can die with the problem although not of it'. "It's absolutely essential to go and see the doctor and have things checked because it could be caused by a host of other health problems, including diabetes." Speaking candidly about the subject, Moss claims that his big accident at Goodwood in 1962, which left him unconscious for a month, resulted in his first problem in the area. "It was a big shock," he said, "especially because at the time I was wanting to spread some happiness around the world, luckily for me there was an unattractive nurse who helped me out quite a bit! The sortED in 10 campaign will feature Moss' face in the national press as well as in washrooms at major service stations and on London taxis. Moss himself is due to have an operation on his back on Thursday to cure chronic pains he's been suffering recently, the legacy of his crash at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix which left him with a broken back and legs.

December 6 2004

Ferrari reveals its testing proposals


Ferrari's managing director Jean Todt
Ferrari has released its first set of proposals for a reduction in testing in 2005 to F1's commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone ahead of today's team meeting (Click HERE for separate story). The world champions admit that if its proposals are not accepted then it will revert to the FIA's existing testing regulations. The teams, minus Ferrari, released their own set of proposals to cut costs early last month, which included a limit of 24 days of testing during the season, something that the world champions are thought to have strongly opposed. In a statement released by the team today, Ferrari said: "What has been proposed would not be effective and would not produce a real reduction in costs, as well as leaving the teams to work in a not very efficient fashion." Instead Ferrari has proposed a limit of 15,000 kilometres of testing per team, for the purpose of developing the car, which would take place at one nominated track. In a bid to "establish some sort of parity between the two tyre constructors", Ferrari has also proposed a maximum of an additional 15,000kms dedicated to tyre development for each of the two companies. Testing would be split between each of the teams and would take place where the chosen team was already testing. The use of third cars on the Fridays before a grand prix was also addressed. While Ferrari admitted that the arrangement would be "incompatible with a further reduction in private testing", it said it would not be opposed to the use of the third car if the teams then reduced their overall mileage covered in private testing. More significantly, Ferrari said that if its proposals were not accepted then the team would comply with the current rules that govern testing which allows teams to carry out as much mileage as they want at any track of their choice. "It's very simple: we will all be free to test how and where we like," the statement read. "Having said that, we are aware that the issue of costs affects everyone and we have to move towards a reduction." Ferrari added that it would release a more comprehensive proposal in the coming weeks that would be based around proposals by the FIA that have already been agreed by all the teams earlier this year. "As was already said in Sao Paulo at the Brazilian Grand Prix, we will rapidly present a more comprehensive proposal, which will take into account information supplied by the FIA last May, with which we are in agreement."

December 6 2004

Button ultra-positive about 2005


Button was upbeat about his future after he collected his Autosport award on Sunday
Jenson Button has refused to rule out a full-on assault on the world championship in 2005 after vowing not to let his fans down for their support in helping him clinch the International Racing Driver of the Year trophy at the Autosport Awards. Button proved the most popular winner of the evening at the Grosvenor House ceremony in London - and believed the seal of approval from the fans would be just the start of a new chapter of success for the Briton. Speaking exclusively to autosport.com after the glittering awards ceremony, Button said: "I just want to say a big thank you really to my fans for their support and hopefully I will be the next British world champion. "If it doesn't happen next year I won't be disappointed but, all I know is, I will give everything I can. I will work as hard as I can with the team I am working with, and perform to the maximum I can - which is 100 per cent. "The team is also very, very happy to have Honda on board. It has given a big boost to the team and it will be a help for the 2005 season. We might not win the championship, but we might. You never know until the new cars come out. But we are all happy and we are looking forward to next year." With the fall-out of his on-off switch to Williams now firmly behind him, and BAR having confirmed its closer ties with engine manufacturer Honda, Button is incredibly bullish about the prospects for 2005 - where he hopes that the sport's new technical regulations will allow his BAR team to close the gap on Ferrari. "It's difficult to say how it will go, you know," he added. "I am more positive than most of the team are, but that is just my way. I think that if I was in the right car then I could be world champion. "Our new car I think will be good, but we don't know how good. We haven't tested it yet and people are testing with different aero levels so it is impossible to say at the moment. It is probably the most difficult year to distinguish what position we are in compared to Ferrari." Button also echoed his comments from the ceremony where he admitted that he felt a little embarrassed to have beaten world champion Michael Schumacher to the International Racing Driver accolade - but he had no complaints. "It's a little bit embarrassing because we saw Michael win loads of races this year and I haven't won a race yet," said Button. "This award means a lot because it is for the most inspiring driver and I think I had some great performance this year. "The team also did a great job and, to get 10 podiums with the package we had, is fantastic. Hopefully this trophy will help me to bigger things in the future."

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