Adam Parr calls Ecclestone’s Concorde deal ‘a crime’ and the EU commission, negligent

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Hijacked by Mercedes

Unfortunately for Adam, this would normally have been the lead story of the day (tue), crossing the North Sea at great pace from Germany. However, the tune to which everyone was dancing came from Mercedes AMG F1 super woofers – Lauda and Wolff.

Adam has given a comprehensive interview to Germany’s MotorSport-Total reporter Dieter Recken, which was clearly done a day or so ago because there is no reference to his Williams replacement’s shock departure from the team for Mercedes. It is an in depth interview that begins by recalling a story from 2009/10 when Toyota withdrew from F1 and Ecclestone threatened to sue them for breach of the Concorde agreement for damages worth $150m’

Parr suggests that the reason it didn’t happen was because of the financial might of Toyota to fight Ecclestone and FOM. Further, in any contract – damages for breach are not generally specified so it is a matter of legal opinion as to the value of damage for the breach. So Concorde would not have listed monetorised penalties for failure to comply. I guess Bernie didn’t fancy that fight.

Rencken takes Adam through a range of topics such as why certain individuals like Peter Sauber didn’t appear in his recent book, his view on Toro Rosso as a customer team and Max Moseley’s brush with the News of the World. All of this is interesting, but my German translation skills only go to so much text before my mind implodes. So we’ll concentrate on big issue in this Q&A.

Mercedes disappoint

Parr ups the anti when it comes to the topic of a possible challenge on Ecclestone’s grip on F1. Recknen asks if he is surprised that the teams have not taken Mr. E and FOM to the EU commission for a ruling on the legality of the Concorde agreement. Adam’s view is that the teams are at the mercy of Bernie’s good will and those who are strong enough for a fight, benefit from any discrimination within Concorde. Those who or suffer discrimination, are too weak to take the fight on.

Parr reveals his disappointment that Mercedes did not follow through with their threat to challenge FOM in the EU courts early last year. At the time Mercedes suggested the new Concorde proposals were illegal and in breach of the European Commission’s regulations.

There was gridlock between Mercedes and Ecclestone for several months, until Niki Lauda made it a priority to broke an agreement between Stutgartt and Bernie – following his appointment as ‘non-executive’ chairman at Mercedes AGM F1.

A ‘crime’ against F1

What is both startling and new in the interview is where Adam suggests the EU Commission are being negligent by ignoring this matter. He describes the FOM and Ecclestone’s breach of law as more a ‘crime’ than a ‘civil’ matter. Further, he calls upon the Commission tasked with policing the treaty to act unilaterally, arguing it does not require an F1 team or anyone to complain for an investigation to be launched.

Clearly if the Concorde Agreement is illegal under EU Law, it would continue indefinitely being illegal – surely it does not require an indefinite wait until an injured party complains for matters to be examined. Parr dismisses the Commissions present ‘wait and see’ approach as nonsense. If there are laws preventing oppression and people live under the fear of death – unless they formally report the oppression they are suffering – is nothing to be done?

Clearly the commission cannot just wander around the EU checking every contract made by every small business, however F1 is the global premier motor sport, with all the participants bar one, inside the Treaty’s jurisdiction.

Concorde should be prevented coming into force

Parr’s call for an immediate investigation is even more astonishing when he asserts, ” I think it would be appropriate for the EU to intervene and prevent the new treaty from entering into force. They should also enforce measures allow F1 to continue, ensuring the operation is run on a fair basis, while conducting their investigation. As a result of this investigation, they should either demand a new agreement that reflects the principles of European law, or they should set one. ”

The crux of the argument goes to potential breaches under ‘abuse of a dominant position’ and ‘unfair competition” all defined under Articles 102 and 103 of the TFEU.

Ask Graeme Lowden and all those who work at Marussia if they are being ‘abused’ by one in ‘a dominant position’. Every other team has been offered a financial arrangement under the Concorde agreement. Brazen faced over this, Ecclestone told Reuters last month he only wanted 10 teams in F1, giving the lame and deceitful excuse that it was easier to manage for the sponsors.

“It’s wrong, it’s just wrong”, Parr asserts. “To force a team into bankruptcy and cause the loss of all those jobs is in my view absolutely and categorically an abuse of a dominant position”.

A few good men

This rallying call from Adam, should be heard and the challenge accepted by the many in the paddock who feel the same. Monisha Kalterborn today warned that the sport is facing ‘dangerous times’ unless people set aside self-interest and recognise the common need for action on finances.

It’s about time those who have grown with the sport over decades begin to display more respect and honour for each other, and it shouldn’t take a relatively new entrant to the F1 inner circle to shout the alarm.

Adam ‘is right, he’s just right’.

42 responses to “Adam Parr calls Ecclestone’s Concorde deal ‘a crime’ and the EU commission, negligent

  1. Read the interview and what was also interesting was him saying he could never work with a direct competitor with Williams. Perhaps a dig at Wolff who he must have already known what was going to be announced in the coming days after the interview.

    Didn’t particularly like Parr when he was about but respect him for taking a stand against Ecclestone.

  2. I wonder if it is a coincidence that this was a German publication and it is the German authorities who may be the ones that finally topple Bernie. Careful manouvering by Adam or is it just that German publications are more ‘on the ball’ with this kind of thing?

    Interesting though that I was making the same point about the deal being unfair on Marussia just a few days ago. Great Minds? Ok, maybe not! 😀

    By the way, Judge, you don’t put http:\\ on the front of email addresses.

  3. Interesting article. Unless we know what Parr’s true motivation is, it can easily be interpreted as someone who wants to try and stick another knife in Bernie while he fights a bribery case and lawsuits from Bluewaters and BayernLB, and Parr has made a decision that by giving the interview his career in F1 is probably over for the foreseeable future. If however, Parr was aware of Wolff’s Mercedes adventure and saw this as an opportunity to regain his old position and possibly bring down Ecclestone at the same time you have to wonder if the interview was done with Frank’s blessing. Either way Bernie is running out of fingers he can stick in his leaking dyke.

    • I think that there is a lot more to it than Parr just trying to stick another knife in Bernie. The current proceedings before the German court are crimiinal in nature whereas Parr is basing his position upon European Competition legislation which is commercial in nature. Parr is a lawyer and I think that the positions that he is taking in the article do reflect his true motivation and also describe a very principal and money-relevant discussion that in my opinion has been going on for quite a very long time between Bernie and Parr, and probably are also at the very origin why Parr was ultimately out-manoeuvred by Ecclestone a couple of months ago. One has to say though that Parr has chosen his timing quite well for bringing his (imho very strong) argumentation to the surface…

    • Bernie is running out of allies pretty quickly. The CVC have made it clear that they’ll throw him down the river if he puts their F1 deal in jeopardy. I still think he’ll make it through all this by the skin of his teeth, but the odds of the Bernie Empire collapsing are increasing by the day.

      It kind of reminds me of the last days of rome, Bernie is being brought up on bribery charges and he’s busy trying to stuff the 2013 schedule with another race.

    • Nice one – was something similar in ‘theage’ yesterday – just been too busy keeping up with who’s joining Mercedes each hour of the day…..

    • They put these stories out over the next few weeks every year. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the articles were already prepared months/years in advance (or re-hashed from the previous years’ story).

      What is new, however, is the leak of the actual hosting cost. A few of these GP funding fees have been made public now, I wonder what Bernie’s reaction will be?

      • Good spot, was thinking of doing a piece on that – the outing of the fees. Can’t remember if I put it in Mexican GP story – been multi layered multi tasking for 2 days – but they quoted $30m as the fee BE that would be required.

        I did something back in Sept/Oct on Korean fee reduction and China too. Singapore were more discreet and just bought about 10% of FOM instead.

        • Haha yeah, Singapore… surely they’re the most active gov’t with regards to foreign investment. They have their fingers in pies all over the globe.

      • To qualify what I meant by “these stories” — usually there is a mild furore over the cost to taxpayers of running the GP. Melbourne is usually exhausted from the cricket and tennis by the time the F1 circus rolls into town, so for the majority of locals, they don’t see the point of having the city disrupted by noisy cars and bogans.

        (F1 is not overwhelmingly popular in Australia, evident by how frequently the TV broadcaster tries to screw over the remaining viewers who haven’t learnt how to download a UK recording of the race from the internet).

          • 111,000 officially but apparently ran a story saying they were lying – suggesting 68000. That would be bad and support your point.

          • It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s true.

            While looking for the article you referred to, I read that last year’s GP cost $56.7 million.

            Ah OK I’ve found the article you refer to. Instead of a reported 110,000, it is claimed only 68,000 turned up.

            The Australian Grand Prix Corporation regularly support their cause by quoting studies which estimate the economic benefit of hosting the GP in Melbourne… usually along the lines of “Sure it costs [you] $50 million but it brings in $200 million for the city of Melbourne in tourist dollars!!!”

            Then you read the fine print and realise they commissioned the report!

          • Read my ‘Ecclestone, Korea and the emperors new clothes’ article. FOM have been spinning these studies to entice circuits for years.

            Wait till Mexico get a GP, Austins unique commercial appeal in the region will disappear as the competing Mexican GP is just over an hours flight away.

  4. Dear Judge – you say ” … with all the participants bar one, inside the Treaty’s jurisdiction “.

    As far as I’m aware ALL participants fall within the Treaty’s jurisdiction ?


    • I never know what Switzerland’s status is on the varying parts of the EU. Not in the Euro but…

      Bit like us..and the hokey cokey…in, out, in, out….shake it all about.

    • Let’s not get too technical, but Sauber is a Swiss team and thus falls outside the territorial scope of the EU Treaty/Competition legislation as Switzerland is not part of the EU; this being said, there is things like the extraterritorial application of the EU Competion legislation as well as the Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Switzerland in competion law matters, I’m sure that Adam Parr can tell you a lot more about it if you really want…:-)

        • BREAKING NEWS: An emergency sitting of the Swiss parliament has unanimously agreed to repeal with immediate effect all ethical, green and carbon emission regulations. Sources say, they may have been influenced by some multi billion global sport wishing to relocate to the tax haven.

      • But as Switzerland ( as does Norway ) have to enact all EU legislation – surely this means that Sauber are covered by the Treaty ?

      • Sensible chaps the Swiss, in avoiding the EU but they have caved in to demands to open their bank accounts to the scrutiny of various tax authorities. Hence the departure of lots of cash to warmer, less cooperative climes.

  5. I suspect Force India while based in the UK may also technically be outside the EU as they are a subsidiary of an Indian company.

  6. I have said before elsewhere and will repeat, that, as far as I can see and I may well be wrong, I am a simple retired sales/design engineer, not a lawyer, the current F1 structure of the “F1 strategy group” which replaced the technical and sporting working groups, goes against the original EU Commission (EM tv) ruling. This removed control of the rules from Bernie and separated the commercial interest, albeit temporarily, from the FIA. The new/current structure gives Bernie back a 33.33% control of the rules. It also effectively give him single handed control over all team entries. It is obviously unfair, but the legality is often obscured.
    I believe it is time for a very major re-organisation of the sport removing those who use it only as a financial instrument. (CVC and co) Unfortunately because of the spread of the holdings and multi layered ownership which does not directly align with the multi layered control it will be almost impossible, unless the German courts declare the sale to CVC “illegal and see Bernie for a refund!” We could all have lengthy beards before that is resolved.

    • Didn’t mean to – sorry – Thought it funny – wrote a reply to it too. Put it back on. Was using app on my phone last night, maybe pressed we button on accident.

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