Force India and Sauber drop EU complaint over F1 governance

Sauber and Force India lodged a complaint with the EU in 2015. Sutton Images

Force India and Sauber have withdrawn a complaint they lodged with the European Union in 2015 about the governance of Formula One and income distribution within the sport.

The teams made the complaint to the European Commission under F1's previous owners, arguing that the way in which regulations are formed ignores the opinions of smaller teams while the distribution of the sport's central prize funds are heavily skewed towards the sport's biggest outfits. A statement in 2015 claimed the combination was both "unfair and unlawful".

However, in a joint statement on Thursday, Force India and Sauber said they had been encouraged by recent talks with F1's new owners Liberty Media and no longer believed it was necessary to enter into a legal dispute.

"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 One," the teams' statement said.

"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 One 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 One 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 One and thus have resolved to withdraw our complaint with immediate effect."

Although Formula One's current model of governance and prize money structure will not change before existing commercial contracts expire in 2020, levelling the playing field between F1's biggest teams and smaller outfits is a cornerstone of Liberty's plans to grow the sport.

One of the first changes Liberty made to F1's governance was allowing all teams to attend the sport's Strategy Group meetings, which had previously been limited to just six teams. Although voting rights are not afforded to those teams without a seat on the Strategy Group -- currently Sauber, Renault, Haas and Toro Rosso -- opening up the meetings was intended to be the first step towards a more transparent and inclusive governance structure for Formula One.