The leading and largest Formula 1 teams are set to reorganise in opposition to Liberty Media’s takeover by establishing a FOTA-style union to protect their financial interests.
Under the Formula One Management system, Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren receive 65% of the total team payments, leaving the other six teams on the grid with a 35% share. The four teams above receive a Constructors Championship Bonus regardless of their results or finishing positions. It is a legacy payment distributed to the big brands in the sport.
Projected amount of money each Formula 1 team received in 2016 (As a result of 2015 season):
That money converts to research and development, allowing the pre-established teams to remain established, making the chances of an independent team like Force India or Sauber breaking into the top three very slim.
The move to create a semi-inclusive team union will be divisive. It will protect the teams that are already given the majority of payments, but detracts from a sense of real competition. This news emerges a few days after ex-Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert warned that the big teams might try and make pushovers of the new owners.
The target for reformation on the team payout system is close to the summit of Liberty Media’s agenda and so it should be. If teams like Ferrari and Mercedes want to gain more respect as competitors and brands, then they would be open to a fairer fight with the independents. It does arguably more damage to these brands when you realise that any potential competitive failures against these smaller teams are in essence, financially impossible.
If the Constructor Championship Bonus teams are unifying against the prospect of an even playing field, then it has to be perceived that they are running scared and couldn’t face a real sporting environment. One independent team boss suggested that there will be two team unions in the upcoming season. One for the big four, the other for the rest of the grid.
The agenda of Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren is everything to do with financial maintenance and in more ways than one, nothing to do with the competition.