Bernie Ecclestone’s biggest challenge yet got underway in the English High Court on Monday as he and the three banks that make up the majority shareholding in F1 asked the courts decide who has the right to rule the sport.

Bernie Ecclestone’s biggest challenge yet got underway in the English High Court on Monday as he and the three banks that make up the majority shareholding in F1 asked the courts decide who has the right to rule the sport.

The three banks, JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers of the US and Bayerische Landesbank of Germany, challenged the appointment of Geneva lawyer Luc Argand Argand and his wife Emmanuele Argand-Rey as directors of Formula One Holding (FOH) two years ago by Bambino, Ecclestone’s family trust.

FOH is owned by SLEC Holdings, which in turn is 75 per cent-owned by the three banks (Speed Investments) and 25 per cent by Ecclestone's family trust.

The banks believed that Ecclestone engineered a false position of power since, despite only holding a 25 per cent share in SLEC, he continued to enjoy a majority on the board of directors.

They said that Bambino acted wrongly in appointing the Argands to the FOH board in 2002, since this prevented the banks from assuming control of the board. Should the banks be allowed to assert what they feel is their right to the majority, the balance of power could be shifted their way, seriously affecting the future of the sport.

Ecclestone’s previous attempt to have the case heard in Switzerland was overturned.

However, Ecclestone denied that the appointments were crucial, but maintained that the banks’ had no claims to the sport's commercial rights.

"The banks don't have anything - no rights whatsoever," Ecclestone told the . "The banks are shareholders of SLEC, and SLEC has no rights. I am the CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration, which runs the business in F1. From this point of view, I own F1."