Motor racing-FIA have key role for F1 future, says Mercedes boss
MONACO May 23 (Reuters) - The future face of Formula One should be decided in the next few months with the sport's governing body yet to play what could be a key hand, Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said on Wednesday.
The immediate spotlight has been on plans for the flotation of Formula One, with an announcement this week that three investment firms have bought a 21 percent stake in the sport from private equity firm CVC Capital.
The flotation is expected to be completed in Singapore next month.
Formula One, run by 81-year-old Briton Bernie Ecclestone, secured the commercial rights of the sport in a 100-year deal agreed with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) in 2001.
That deal also contained a so-called 'Don King clause', named after the controversial boxing promoter, that allows the Paris-based FIA to bar from taking over the business anyone they consider undesirable.
Glamour team Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull have been offered places on the future board of Formula One but not, according to sources, Mercedes.
The current 'Concorde Agreement', a confidential document governing the sport and signed by teams, commercial rights holder and FIA, expires at the end of the year with Mercedes the only top team yet to agree an extension.
"I think we've got a long way to go before we arrive at the final solutions," Brawn told reporters at the Monaco Grand Prix, the social highlight of the season and a race where many deals are done.
"I think what's got to be factored in...is the role the FIA play in the future and how they are involved in the sport," he added.
"They have been quite quiet so far but they will have an involvement in the sport and I'm reasonably confident that we'll find sensible solutions in the future. I don't think things are closed yet..."
Mercedes were involved in Formula One in the 1950s, as well as having a huge presence in pre-World War Two grand prix racing, but pulled out in 1955 before returning as an engine supplier with McLaren in 1994 and then buying champions Brawn GP at the end of 2009.
Five-times world champion Juan Manuel Fangio raced for Mercedes in 1954 and 1955, partnered by British great Stirling Moss in that final year.
Mercedes GP chief executive Nick Fry said at the Spanish Grand Prix this month that CVC needed to reach an agreement with Mercedes before any flotation could be successful and this needed to be done "fairly quickly".
Brawn said the sport had to keep its "lifeblood" with an independent governing body to police it and provide an unbiased viewpoint against vested interests.
"We can't do that ourselves, for sure. The teams have always demonstrated it's very difficult in a very competitive environment to be self-policing," he added.
"So I think we'll see in the next few months clearly where the FIA stand on all of this... It might go on longer but I think in the next few months it will become clear what the shape of Formula One is in the future." (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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