Briatore wants new F1 deal by Nurburgring
Renault boss Flavio Briatore is still hoping the team can sign a long-term commercial agreement with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone at the European Grand Prix, even though other manufacturers are still reluctant to commit themselves.
Negotiations between Ecclestone, commercial owners CVC Capital Partners and Briatore, who had been put forward by the manufacturers to lead negotiations in the latest round of talks over a commercial deal, have left the carmakers closer than ever to finding a settlement.
But despite Briatore saying he is happy with the latest offer from Ecclestone, and wanting to sign-up at Imola last weekend, the other members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) still want more talks to improve the terms.
They held a meeting at the San Marino Grand Prix to discuss whether to accept the latest Ecclestone offer negotiated by Briatore, but decided to reject it.
The current terms on offer from Ecclestone, of 50 percent of the sport's entire commercial revenue, is understood to be 10 percent less than what had been on the table prior to the failed talks on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, when Ecclestone suddenly revised his terms downwards.
One source suggested the difference could be as much as $100 million per season - which amounts to $500 million over the five-year term of the new commercial arrangement.
"It is far more than the cost of a motorhome, as some people have been saying," explained the source.
The failure of the other GPMA members to agree to the offer left Renault unable to sign up at Imola thanks to a pact of unity signed between the GPMA members last September. It means that none of manufacturers can act unilaterally is signing up with Ecclestone.
However, Briatore has made it clear that he is still targeting a deal as soon as the next race.
"Once we find a solution we will sign at the Nurburgring," he said. "I don't wait for anybody. With the negotiations, at some point, we have to stop."
McLaren boss Ron Dennis, who has played a key role in the talks, is less optimistic that a deal is that close.
"Whilst there are some drafts, there is a lot of work to be done before there is a document we can feel comfortable with," he said. "Preceding that there are some first steps to be taken and, while everyone's position is different, it is not radically so.
"The common desire is to strengthen and stabilise F1. That's what we want to see. I think we can make F1 better if we are a unified entity."
When asked what the sticking points are, he said: "It is inappropriate to say. I don't think there is anything that is insurmountable, but it is a stressful process.
"Everyone has different long term strategies and it's trying to make everyone's interests common. That is difficult, but not impossible, there is light at the end of the tunnel."
But following talks between FIA president Max Mosley and BMW's Burkhard Goeschel, who is head of the GPMA, at Imola, as well as a big push from CVC's Donald MacKenzie over the weekend, the likelihood is that a deal can still be agreed before the end of next month.
One high-level source involved in the negotiations said: "I think we are highly likely to have something agreed by the Monaco Grand Prix, although it may not actually be formally signed then."