Bernie Ecclestone has made the surprising claim that the European Union could get involved in the debate about the alternative F1 engine for 2017 – and help him to push the necessary rule change through.
The FIA surprised teams this week by issuing a call for expressions of interest, the first step in the tender process to find a supplier for the budget engine.
This came before the F1 Commission had voted on the subject, a move that in theory is necessary given that the new engine would require significant rule changes for 2017. However, most F1 insiders believed that Ecclestone and Jean Todt won’t be able to garner enough votes to get it pushed through, given the opposition from teams and engine suppliers, which would in effect render the tender process worthless.
However Ecclestone has implied that the F1 Commission could be overruled by a higher power.
“People can go up for the tender and then it’s up to the F1 Commission to decide whether they want to do it,” Ecclestone told this writer.
“I think the European Commission [on competition] will sort it out. I don’t think it would be hard to get it through the F1 Commission, but I’d rather it now be dealt with by the European Commission. It’s all the things they want to be against – anti-competitive, and cartels. They don’t like cartels, they don’t like those sort of things.”
When it was suggested that an EU involvement could take months Ecclestone insisted this was nothing to do with the recent complaint from Sauber and Force India, which relates to how income is shared: “This is a different thing to what the other people complained about. Who said we haven’t already started?”
Meanwhile Ecclestone denied that the whole process has been instigated to try to force one of the manufacturers to provide an engine for Red Bull.
“Not really, I don’t want an engine for Red Bull like that. We need another engine supplier. We don’t want to be put in a position where we’ve got them squeezing our balls.”