Monisha Kaltenborn: Sauber unaware of commercial deals rivals have signed
“The entire scope or scale of all these privileges, actually we only recently became aware of it through the media," team principal says after EU complaint launched
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 16/10/15 10:07am
Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn has said the secrecy surrounding commercial deals between teams and Bernie Ecclestone is such that they’ve only been able to try and understand who’s getting what through the media.
Kaltenborn was speaking after the Swiss team joined Force India in making a complaint to the European Union about the sport's governance and revenue distribution, which they believe are in breach of competition laws.
F1's commercial and rule-making structure has changed in recent years, with the Concorde Agreement between teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA replaced by individual deals.
The governing body has, meanwhile, lessened its influence in making the rules, and now sits alongside Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Williams, plus one other team, and Ecclestone in the Strategy Group.
Each team receives an equal share of F1's revenue, with another according to their performance on track. In addition, however, leading teams are believed to get huge bonuses based on their successes over previous seasons as well as large historical payments.
Ferrari, who are also guaranteed their own bonus regardless of how they perform, reportedly received more than £102m last year. Sauber, in contrast, received around £30m.
"The entire scope or scale of all these privileges, actually we only recently became aware of it through the media - of what kinds of side deals some teams have signed," Kaltenborn admitted at the Russian GP.
She said that smaller teams like Sauber and Force India, whose core business is F1, have been forced to accept whatever terms were offered.
"You have to see the situation our two teams were in; you get an offer and either you take it or leave it," Kaltenborn explained.
"That's your choice. So you sign it, knowing what you sign, or you have the choice to leave Formula 1, which is no choice."
Kaltenborn, whose team have a long-standing engine deal with Ferrari, stressed that their complaint was against the commercial rights holder rather than any individual team.
"[Ecclestone] has publicly expressed his views, saying if I remember that he'd like to tear [up] certain agreements. I believe now he's said he understands our position," Kaltenborn said.
"He knows why we are doing it and when it was said that we knew what we were signing into, well we knew some preferential terms.
"For teams like Force India and ourselves, this is our core business. We don't do anything else - we run Formula 1 teams. We might have commercial activities next to it, but this is our core business."
Kaltenborn expects it will take a minimum of two weeks before the EU decides whether to press on with the case, in which it must be proven that the current system damages not just the smaller teams but the sport in general.
"It is not about individual teams. For us, the most important part in this is that we believe that through this rule-making and through these privileges, the sport is being harmed," she added.
"I think the bottom line is we really hope that the commission will investigate why these unfair terms, in our view, have been put into place."
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 at the Russian GP, Ecclestone responded: "I think they were wrong, but that's what they've done. The commission will have to look into it now for sure. I don't exactly know what their complaint is.
"Maybe they're spending too much money that they don't have. They don't seem to be able to organise a budget properly, so they spend what they think needs spending and not worry about how the money's coming in. I think that's the big problem."
See if Lewis Hamilton clinches the 2015 world title in Austin with the United States GP LIVE ONLY on Sky Sports F1. Race-day coverage on Sunday October 25 begins at 5.30pm with lights out at 7pm.