There have been some stories in recent days about how some of the top Formula 1 teams may have already signed the Concorde Agreement for 2013 and beyond. This is not very likely, as it makes no sense given the restrictions that exist in the current Concorde Agreement. These are all secret, but my spies tell me that although the Commercial Rights Holder can start discussing new deals with teams after December 31 2011, he is contractually bound to offer the same deal to all the teams in the negotiations, up to the end of the current Concorde Agreement on December 31, 2012. He may agree similar terms as those under the 2009 agreement, which gave Ferrari a big bonus, but he may not otherwise do any deals which provide any rights, benefits or privileges, which would discriminate against the other teams. This is all, apparently, in writing and all parties have agreed to the terms.
The Concorde Agreement appears to be written in such a way as to safeguard the teams against one another, as much as against the commercial rights holder. The only reason that Ferrari or Red Bull would sign an early deal is if they felt that there was something to be gained from doing so. If the Formula One group is willing to offer these teams a significantly better deal than they currently have, they might sign, but if they did, that would commit the Formula One group to pay the same to all the other teams as well. A smart team owner would want to know why such a deal was on offer and would understand that anyone proposing such an arrangement was in a weak negotiating position and would, logically, conclude that it would be wiser to hold off and return to collective bargaining and negotiate better terms, in league with the other teams.
The only real reason why the owners of the Formula One group might offer such deals would be to assure stability for the future, which would enable them to rapidly get into a position where they could sell the business, or raise loans secured on the future revenues of the sport. But it is doubtful that they would want to send out signals of vulnerability at a time when the Formula One Teams’ Association is in danger of falling apart, as this would create a good reason for the teams to get back together again and stop quibbling over what amount to minor points in the overall scheme of things.