Liberty gives hope to Andretti-Cadillac’s F1 team bid

Mon, 26 June 2023, 09:00

Jun.26 (GMM) Greg Maffei, the CEO of the American company that owns Formula 1, has given a big boost to Michael Andretti’s bid to enter the sport’s 11th team.

Speaking on the Walker and Dunlop Webcast, however, he admitted not only that many of the existing teams are pushing back on the idea, but that F1 will actually struggle to accommodate more than its 10 current teams.

“The real problem is the way the structure works today, there are probably four or five garages, paddock areas where that would be difficult to put in an 11th bay,” Maffei said.

“Maybe that’s solvable with money and time. But it’s not something you snap your fingers and solve.”

But he indicated that Liberty is not closed-minded about welcoming more teams – which is why the new Las Vegas circuit is already equipped to accommodate more than 10 competitors.

“We have accommodated and that will not be a problem with Vegas,” he said.

The bigger issue, it seems, is money – or the dilution of the teams’ income which is currently split into 10.

“Dividing 11 ways is not something they’re particularly enthused about,” said Maffei.

It was rumoured recently that one proposed solution is that the ‘new team fee’ payable by a new competitor could be revved up from its current $200m to close to a full billion.

But Maffei admitted that “whatever is being proposed to pay for a franchise fee doesn’t compensate them enough for the dilution that they’re going to take for the 11th team”.

However, the fact that Andretti’s bid is supported by General Motors and Cadillac could swing the situation.

“I think there are reasons to think that that could come about,” said Maffei.

“I think we’re lucky we have so many OEMs now – as many as we’ve ever had. But having more OEMs, particularly an American one, would certainly be a positive.”

What Maffei is very clear about, meanwhile, is that an entity would need to pay more than the $20 billion rumoured to have been offered by Saudi Arabia for the purchase of Liberty Media’s F1 commercial rights.

“To be honest, that wouldn’t be an attractive offer,” he revealed. “We’re worth $17 to $18 billion in the market, so why accept an offer of $20 billion?”

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