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Ecclestone hits back at F1 ‘cartel’ accusation

Bernie Ecclestone has hit back with fury at a letter demanding talks with F1’s small teams in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

Since backmarkers Caterham and Marussia hit their troubles, the sport’s next-smallest teams Lotus, Force India and Sauber have been bemoaning the inequality of power and income, and even threatening to boycott races.

In a letter this week signed by the three teams, Force India deputy boss Bob Fernley even hinted legal action might be ahead, describing the income distribution model and rule-making Strategy Group as akin to a “cartel”.

“I hope he understands what the definition is of a cartel, and if he does, how he could believe there is a cartel,” F1 chief executive Ecclestone has now responded, according to PA Sport.

“He (Fernley) is talking complete and utter rubbish,” he added.  “This is the problem we get into in meeting with these team principals, or managers — they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

However, it is believed Ecclestone will sit down with the bosses in Abu Dhabi, despite calling the talks in Brazil recently a “complete and utter waste of time”.

The 84-year-old F1 supremo played down the likelihood the new talks will satisfy the angry teams.

“They have a contract they signed.  They know exactly what they signed and how much money they would be getting,” said Ecclestone.

“What we don’t have any control over is how much they want to spend.  That’s the problem.

“It doesn’t seem like they’ve followed a normal business route.”

In the same interview, however, Ecclestone said he feels sympathy for the teams whose customer engine bills have risen dramatically due to the switch from V8 to V6 engines this year.

Eddie Jordan, a former team owner and boss and now a pundit for British television, says the situation indicates Ecclestone should consider stepping down.

The Daily Mail said Jordan was particularly alarmed by Ecclestone saying F1 doesn’t need the younger generation because 70-year-olds have more money.

“It is out of control,” he said.  “Nobody knows whether he means what he says or even knows what he is saying.

“We are only custodians of the sport.  We have a responsibility to the next generation to hand it over in a fit, healthy and competitive state,” Jordan added.