LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One’s struggling smaller teams have been told they will have to take action if they want the European Commission to investigate concerns about the sport’s governance and distribution of revenues.
Anneliese Dodds, a member of the European parliament for Britain’s opposition Labour party, visited the Force India factory at Silverstone on Friday and said it was up to the teams to press their grievances.
“The Commissioner in charge has made it clear to me that she can’t do anything until the teams themselves submit a formal complaint, and so if that’s what the teams feel is right then that is what they should do,” she said.
Dodds has written on several occasions to Margrethe Vestager, the commissioner responsible for competition, to express concerns that developments in Formula One could potentially be in breach of European law.
“Ever since the collapse of Marussia and Caterham last year, I have had real concerns about the way things are going with Formula One,” the parliamentarian said in a statement.
“This doesn’t just mean two fewer teams taking part in races throughout the season; it means hundreds of highly skilled people in my constituency losing their jobs and their livelihoods.”
While Caterham no longer exist, tail-enders Marussia are still competing after a late rescue.
Others are also struggling, with Lotus having a winding-up petition against them postponed earlier this week while Force India’s pre-season testing was hit by cash-flow problems.
Force India, Sauber and Lotus wrote to Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone last November as part of a push for a re-distribution of the sport’s revenues.
The letter, signed by Force India deputy principal Bob Fernley, spoke of “a questionable cartel” controlling “both the governance of Formula One and, apparently, the distribution of...funds.”
Top teams Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Red Bull receive special payments and sit with the commercial rights holder and governing FIA on the sport’s core decision-making ‘strategy group’ -- which this year includes Force India.
Ecclestone has dismissed any talk of a ‘cartel’ and the teams have so far held back from taking their complaints to Brussels.
“We will wait for the complaint,” Ecclestone told the Financial Times recently. “They all signed contracts. I hope the complaint goes ahead and the competition authorities have enough patience and time to deal with it.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis