Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is considering a push to rip up the sport’s prize money structure to stop bigger teams getting guaranteed bonus payments.
As part of bilateral agreements that run until 2020, Ecclestone has previously agreed for successful outfits like Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes to walk away with huge extra payments because of their historical contribution to the sport.
It is widely understood that Ferrari gets more than $90 million simply for turning up, which is more than many other teams could achieve even by finishing high up in the constructors’ championship.
These bonus payments have been a bone of contention for smaller outfits, and formed the basis of a complaint lodged with the EU by Sauber and Force India about it being anti-competition.
Now, Ecclestone has revealed that he wants a rethink of the system to help make it fairer for all the teams – although any move before 2020 would require all outfits to agree to tear up their contracts.
With Mercedes having last year walked away with an extra bonus for winning its second successive constructors’ championship double, Ecclestone believes the time has come to act.
Speaking to The Times, he said: “I told Toto [Wolff, Mercedes motorsport boss] not to think about banking any money yet.
“I am going to have a good look at how things work to see if I can come up with something more equal for all the teams.”
It is suggested that Ecclestone would prefer a system more like that in place in Football’s Premier League – where the share of revenue is more equal but there remains a meritocracy for success.
“The Premier League has a good way of distributing the prize money, so maybe that could work for us,” added Ecclestone.
“There will be people who will like it and people who won’t like it, and people who will suffer.”