Formula One: EU complaint withdrawn

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Formula One Teams, Force India and Sauber, have withdrawn their 2015 complaint, made to the European Competition Commission, against certain alleged anti-competitive practices of this motor sport.

They have challenged the way the sport is governed, and the revenue distributed amongst the F1 teams. In particular, they claim that the biggest teams – Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, McLaren and Williams – have enjoyed an unfair financial advantage over the lesser ones.

Following the change of ownership and management of F1 in 2017, the complainants have decided to settle their differences by negotiation with the new owners, whom they feel will be less transigent than the previous ones.

The complainants have explained the decision to withdraw their EU complaint in the following terms:

“Their approach [the new owners] has brought a new culture of transparency to the sport and illustrates willingness to debate fundamental issues such as the distribution of the prize fund monies, cost control and engine regulations……. While the concerns leading to the complaint were fully justified, we believe this new approach provides the necessary degree of assurance that our concerns will be looked at objectively, and we prefer to resolve the issues facing the sport through dialogue rather than a legal dispute.”

This all goes to show that, given the appropriate circumstances, the settlement of disputes through negotiations is to be generally preferred to full-blown litigation, especially where the parties concerned are willing to reach an amicable outcome.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’