Warring forces make peace

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The Independent Online

Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix may have been virtually devoid of overtaking and genuine drama, but the weekend may come to be remembered as a turning point for Formula One.

First there was the breakout of a modicum of humour in the press conference on Friday, then the outcome of the first meeting of the world governing body FIA's new Sporting Working Group in which a democratic majority vote vetoed some of the president Max Mosley's more contentious proposals on freezing engine development.

On Sunday came the news that the hitherto warring factions - Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration and the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association - had buried the hatchet, finally removing the threat of a breakaway world championship. Later it was confirmed that BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Toyota had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Formula One's commercial structure as developed between the F1 rights owner CVC Capital Partners, Ecclestone's FOA and the GPMA.

Professor Burkhard Goschel, the GPMA chairman, said the agreement "constitutes a comprehensive solution for the future of the sport". He added: "We can build on this result and look forward to jointly grow Formula One and make it an even bigger sporting spectacle than ever before."

The MoU gives the teams a much bigger share of the sport's significant revenues, and provides the basis for a new Concorde Agreement between FOA, the FIA and the teams through to 2012. It should also help progress ongoing talks with the FIA about sporting, technical and governance issues.

The agreement between the major forces will signal that long-term stability can make the sport an attractive arena for global sponsorship, with tobacco advertising to be banned from September.