Politics on pole before Turkey qualifying

By on Saturday, May 7, 2011

May 7 (GMM) Martin Whitmarsh has denied that senior staff belonging to F1's 'big four' teams are set to meet with News Corp officials next week.

The formerly secret meeting was reportedly scheduled to take place in Stuttgart involving Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull, as FOTA chairman Whitmarsh on Friday admitted it is "desirable" for the teams to own the sport's commercial rights.

He said F1 staff are not heading to Germany next weekend but couldn't rule out that the teams' actual shareholders might be there.

Whitmarsh's comments follow suggestions inside the paddock that teams meeting directly to discuss the ownership of F1 would contravene the current Concorde agreement.

"But we are all part of entities where our shareholders talk, they have businesses and they may well be having discussions," said Whitmarsh, also team principal of the partly Bahrain-owned McLaren team.

"But it's not for me to confirm what they are doing and where they are going," he insisted, revealing that a regular FOTA meeting will take place on Sunday.

The Briton also steered away from his boss Ron Dennis' claim that the Ferrari-linked Exor company buying into F1 would be a "conflict of interest".

"As far as most teams are concerned I think we all need to look, each of us, at whether we want to be involved in an ownership model in the future," said Whitmarsh.

Whatever ultimately happens, the situation at present is confusing at best and probably a deliberate case of smoke and mirrors.

"Sometimes the speculation is put out there for political reasons so we don't try to second-guess what people are up to," Virgin team boss John Booth is quoted by the Guardian.

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