FIA wants more F1 income from Liberty Media

Wed, 20 March 2024, 09:00

Mar.20 (GMM) There could be troubled negotiations ahead between Formula 1’s governing body, the FIA, and the Liberty Media-owned commercial rights holder.

The current Concorde Agreement – binding the FIA, Formula One Management and the teams together – was signed in 2021, and will run until the end of 2025.

That means talks are almost certainly already occurring.

“I think it’s an ongoing process,” new RB team CEO Peter Bayer said, “and last time it took around two years. I hope this time we’ll be getting it done faster, but it’s something that will be discussed behind closed doors with the responsible people.”

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei is keen to accelerate the process, admitting last year he wants to “strike while the iron is hot”. At around the same time, current FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem insisted there was no rush.

“If you want a strong FIA, we have to work together and we have to empower the FIA, because the FIA is the regulatory body,” he added.

Now, with F1’s commercial revenue exceeding $3.2 million annually for the first time ever, a figure very close to Ben Sulayem reveals that the non-profit FIA will be pushing for a bigger slice of the sport’s income pie.

It could explain the current acrimony that clearly exists between the FIA’s current regime, the teams, and Liberty Media.

“When we arrived at the FIA, they were losing 30 million euros each year,” said Manuel Avino, one of Ben Sulayem’s vice presidents and head of Spain’s automobile federation (RFEdeA).

“That would have placed the FIA in absolute bankruptcy in four years and that is why they have had to change many things. We had lived many years in which the president or the previous governing team fled from confrontation with many promoters and from many situations,” he told Soy Motor.

“Sometimes, one has to position oneself outside the comfort zone and claim their rights – what belongs to us. That sometimes makes the promoter or in this case Liberty Media uncomfortable,” said Avino.

The implication is that Mohammed Ben Sulayem will be pushing for a bigger slice of the Liberty Media-controlled F1 financial pie in the next Concorde.

“The promoter of Formula 1 is becoming a billionaire at the expense of a product that belongs to the FIA,” said Avino. “80 percent of the FIA budget comes from F1, and now we do not find it fair that from all that wealth that is being generated by Formula 1, nothing is shared with the FIA.

“Our president is demanding that what is ours be returned to us, because the FIA is a non-profit entity that wants to reinvest in competition. There is no enmity nor confrontation,” he insists.

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