Force India and Sauber have withdrawn their complaint to the European Union asking it to investigate anti-competitive practices within Formula 1.
The two teams first lodged the complaint back in 2015, citing the unequal distribution of revenue within the sport as being against the European Commission’s competition guidelines. As well as special payments that are received by certain teams, both Force India and Sauber were unhappy at the governance structure, with Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and the next highest-placed team in the constructors’ championship making up the Strategy Group which discusses future rule directions.
The complaint was lodged after Force India and Sauber – along with the struggling Lotus team – wrote to then-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, but since Liberty Media’s takeover of the sport, both teams have been encouraged by the new owner’s approach. With one change seeing all teams invited to join Strategy Group meetings as observers, the EU complaint has now been withdrawn.
In a joint statement, Force India and Sauber confirmed: “We have decided to withdraw the complaint we lodged with the European Commission in 2015 on the subject of anti-competitive practices in the sport of Formula 1.
“We have been greatly encouraged by the dialogue that has been introduced following the appointment of Chase Carey as Executive Chairman and CEO of the Formula 1 commercial rights holder and his new management team. Their approach 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.
“We are encouraged and reassured by the even-handed and fair negotiating approach taken by the new management of Formula 1 to all the teams and their issues. While the concerns leading to the compliant 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.
“We want to support this transformational process in Formula 1 and thus have resolved to withdraw our complaint with immediate effect.”
The fundamental issues that Force India and Sauber reference have seen Ferrari threaten to quit the sport if future changes don’t match with its views, with Mercedes recently saying it is aligned with the Scuderia.