The European Parliament has passed an amendment to its annual competition report, which calls for a formal investigation into “anti-competitive practices” in Formula One.
The amendment asking for “an immediate investigation into competition concerns arising from the Formula One industry” was tabled by UK MEP Anneliese Dodds, who has long advocated that the European Union should investigate the sport’s governance and payment structure.
“I’m happy that today the European Parliament backed my call for a full and immediate investigation into anti-competitive practices in Formula One,” said Dodds.
“Smaller teams are unfairly punished by an uncompetitive allocation of prize money that will always give the biggest teams more money, even if they finish last in every race,” said Dodds, who pointed to the collapse of the Manor racing team last month as an example of the problem.
Force India and Sauber lodged a formal complaint about the sport’s current set-up with the EU in 2015. Although this led to the creation of a new internal group to deal with sporting matters, the enquiry into the complaint is yet to get underway.
“The problems in Formula One extend well beyond the allocation of prize money, with serious concerns being raised about an agreement with [UK] HM Revenue and Customs that allowed the sport to pay an effective 2 per cent tax rate,” Dobbs added.
Dobbs also highlighted a potential serious conflict of interest for the sport’s governing body over the sale of Formula One to Liberty Group Media, which saw the FIA benefit to the tune of almost $80 million after giving the deal the green light.
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While the EU doesn’t have the regulatory power to block or undo the Liberty takeover of Formula One, it could fine the sport up to ten per cent of its $1 billion annual turnover and mandate changes in the sport’s structure in future.
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