Bernie Ecclestone: I don't know how to fix F1 finances

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
bernie ecclestone
"There is too much money being distributed badly - probably my fault," says Ecclestone

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he is to blame for the financial problems afflicting some of the smaller teams in the sport.

Marussia and Caterham have gone into administration, reducing the grid for Sunday's US Grand Prix to 18 cars.

Their collapse has caused anger among some surviving teams, who say the sport's revenues are not split fairly.

Ecclestone said: "There is too much money being distributed badly - probably my fault."

He added: "Like lots of agreements people make, they seemed a good idea at the time. I know what's wrong, but don't know how to fix it."

Force India's Fernley says US GP boycott is 'on the table'

Ecclestone has struck private financial deals with all the teams over the last few years and the result has been a revenue split that is heavily in favour of the big teams.

The contracts are secret, but Ferrari are believed to have been paid more than $200m (£125m) for the 2013 season, in which they finished third in the championship, including $90m just for turning up.

By contrast, Marussia earned a reputed $14m (£8.8m), and Caterham a little more than double that.

The costs for a midfield team to compete in F1 for a season are believed to be about $120m (£75m).

Ecclestone dismissed claims from Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley that they and the Lotus and Sauber teams might boycott Sunday's race in the USA - which World Championship leader Lewis Hamilton starts second, behind Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg - in protest at the financial problems afflicting the sport.

Christian Horner and Bernie Ecclestone
Christian Horner has said he would prefer to see the standard two car teams in future seasons

"They will be racing, I give you a guarantee," he said. "But I worry if they will be racing next year."

He said that if the bigger teams wanted to prevent the risk of more teams going out of business, they would have to give up some of their income.

"It's not the biggest crisis I've dealt with, but I'm not happy," he said.

"It's just you are talking about larger amounts of money, so therefore it is more difficult to solve.

"We'll have to do something about it because we can't all sit back nicely, relaxed and think the problem will go away.

"It's not like having the flu and taking a few tablets and it will disappear.

Marussia team at the Russian GP
As well as suffering administration, the Marussia team saw their driver Jules Bianchi critically injured during the Japanese Grand Prix

"The situation is such that if enough people want it resolved, we can resolve it.

"It's a case that the people involved in the sport will have to want to look after the sport and be prepared to make some sacrifices."

He added that he would be happy to renegotiate the teams' contracts if they were prepared to do so as well.

"It makes no difference to me how the money is shared out.

"If they sat down here with me now and said they want to share out all of the money they get in a different way, I would say: 'Good, give me the bit of paper'."

And he said he would be prepared to give up some of the income earned by main shareholder CVC, which employs him to run the sport, if the teams did the same.

Caterham factory after going into administration
Many jobs are under threat at both Caterham and Marussia

"I would say to people getting a chunk of money that I would like to take a percentage of their performance-related payment," Ecclestone said.

"I would put that money together to divide among the three or four we know are in trouble, and then I would put in the same amount of money.

"But there would not be one team that would think it was a good idea."

The United States Grand Prix begins at 20:00 GMT, with live text coverage from 19:00, on 5 live from 19:30 and TV highlights at 22:30 GMT.

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