According to the Concorde Agreement, which divides up the commercial revenues of the sport, teams have to give approval to a calendar if it contains more than 17 races and if more than half of these events take place outside Europe and the United States. The 2012 calendar, which was published recently by motorsport’s world governing body the FIA, contained 20 races – 11 of which can be classified as ‘flyaways’.
The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) has written to both F1’s commercial rights-holder Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt in the belief the calendar was drawn up without the Concorde Agreement procedure having been followed. FOTA vice-chairman Eric Boullier told Autosport that discussions with Ecclestone are now likely to resolve the matter.
There are concerns about the logistics and costs of the final sequence of races. From September 23 to November 25, F1 is set to visit Singapore, Japan, Korea, India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil, with the inaugural US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas scheduled as the penultimate race of the season. “There is a process for the validation of the calendar, especially with more flyaways, and we will be involved in this because there is a cost issue,” said Boullier, who is team principal of Lotus Renault GP. “There are different proposals at the moment, but it is not so easy to move one date.”
Ecclestone has rejected the teams’ concerns, stating they have the choice of competing. “They don’t have to go if they don’t want to,” he said. When asked about the teams’ concerns over an apparent break in procedure, Ecclestone replied: “Then they should go to the police. They are lucky we have got races. Otherwise they would all go out of business.”