Montezemolo backs Bernie

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Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo says Formula One needs Bernie Ecclestone to continue running the sport. Montezemolo says Ecclestone's contacts with the financial world are crucial if the sport wants to thrive.

Montezemolo spoke out after talks between car manufacturers and the sport's commercial rights holders eased fears of a breakaway championship.

The carmakers last week announced a breakthrough agreement with the banks who control F1's commercial rights.

"It is too early for many details (about the agreement)," Wednesday's Guardian newspaper quoted Montezemolo as saying. "But we need Bernie Ecclestone even more to run the business because the business is owned by the banks." Under Ecclestone's guidance, F1 now generates an estimated annual income of around $400m from TV rights and other commercial sources.

The SLEC holding company that he founded, and which is now 75% owned by bankers JP Morgan, Lehman Brothers and Bayerische Landesbank, has a 100-year deal for the sport's commercial rights.