Graeme Lowdon has called on F1's commercial bosses to create a 'level playing field'
Marussia cheief says lack of deal creating "undue pressure"
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 25/06/13 1:03pm
Marussia: Without a commercial rights deal
Marussia's Graeme Lowdon has called for a financial "level playing field" in Formula 1 as they struggle to compete without income from the sport's commercial rights.
The backmarker outfit currently stand alone among teams in that they have not been offered terms by F1 commercial rights controller Bernie Ecclestone.
In the absence of a Concorde Agreement - the tri-partite deal that, in theory, binds teams, the commercial rights holder and the FIA together to guarantee the World Championship - teams have, on the whole, relied on individual agreements with Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm that owns a majority stake in the sport.
Marussia remain out in the cold, however, with Lowdon, their President and Sporting Director, all too aware of the burden the financial shortfall places on the Banbury outfit, who must already try and balance the smallest budget in the field.
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"It puts undue pressure on the team. All we ask for is a level playing field. All teams should be treated equally. For whatever reason, that does not seem to be the case," The Times quoted Lowdon as saying.
"We just don't have a deal with the commercial rights-holder. Why should that be? This sport is full of strange mysteries and that is one of them.
"Ultimately, Bernie is the chief executive, CVC are the majority owners. He presumably reports to their board and that board has to make a decision on how it treats companies it deals with. We are one of those companies, and it chooses to treat us differently.
"It doesn't make any sense to me, but then I don't work for CVC. Maybe they have a masterplan."
With this weekend's British GP the eighth of 19 races, Marussia may yet fall foul of another financial obstacle.
Currently standing tenth in the Constructors' Championship after a strong start to the season, they'll be banking on staying ahead of rivals Caterham given Ecclestone's recent pronouncement that the estimated $10million payment handed out to the 11th-placed team is to be scrapped.
They also led Caterham in last year's constructors' standings but suffered heartache at the last race in Brazil when Vitaly Petrov clinched an all-important 11th-place finish.
"[Marussia] don't have a commercial agreement because they are not in the top ten," Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph in April. "We pay the top ten, that's what we do. For three years we did something different because we had an agreement with Max but from now on we will pay the top ten and that is it."
Alongside Caterham and the now defunct HRT, Marussia entered F1 in 2010 as part of an attempt made by former FIA President Max Mosley to cut costs.
Ecclestone has made no secret of his desire to see a more exclusive field but Lowdon said that both the sport and Marussia should be afforded more respect by its owners.
"Ask the fans and they want to see us [in F1]," he added. "This is the Formula One World Championship, not the world championship of private equity excellence. My view is that the championship is bigger than the participants and that is the reason why CVC have a successful investment. It should be treated with a high degree of respect, including the participants.
"The championship means a lot to a lot of people who have been made rich by it, but it also means a lot to those who work in it and earn a living out of it."