According to Ecclestone – who was interviewed by selected media earlier this week – the Renault boss issued the threat because his team did not receive the money promised by the F1 supremo for signing a new Concorde agreement. Nevertheless, a new agreement between the FOM (controlled by Ecclectone) and Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) is yet to be signed.
“Poor John was sitting there a bit confused about life in general. Flavio started it (the threat), aided and abetted by Ron Dennis. They were saying all the FOTA-schmota are not going (to Australia) – nobody's going to go. So I said what I'd better do is cancel the aircraft obviously. It costs a fortune to charter those things and almost as much to cancel them,” said Ecclestone, as reported by GMM news agency.
In response to Briatore's playing hard ball, the F1 boss issues some threats of his own to the aforementioned team principals.
“If they come in here with a gun and hold it to my head, they had better be sure they can f---ing pull the trigger. And they should make sure it's got bullets in it because, if they miss, they better look out,” added Ecclestone.
The tough situation ahead of the Aussie GP was also confirmed by Albert Park race promoter Ron Walker. While admitting the boycott threat over the Melbourne race, Walker trusts Bernie to put his negotiation abilities to work and solve the problem quickly.
“It's very serious at the moment, but I think good sense will prevail by Sunday. A clear understanding will be made between the teams and the FIA. (And) Bernie is the master deal-maker. He's been in it for years,” Walker told the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun.