In 2021, the Formula 1 race will be held in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman passes through the starting line-up.Photo: imago pictures / motorsports pictures
Formula 1 is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom. Racing series are increasingly opening huge markets like China and USA. The hype surrounding the first category of motorsports especially in the US is huge – and this is also due to the huge success of the Netflix series “Drive to Survive”, the fifth season of which will be released on February 24th.
For US media company Liberty Media, which has owned the rights to Formula 1 since 2016, the investment appears to have paid off. At the time, Americans paid Bernie Ecclestone $4.4 billion – and the thriving racing series is now said to be worth five times that amount.
Bloomberg News recently reported that Saudi Arabia wants to buy Formula 1 from Liberty Media – for an incredible $20 billion.
The money will come from the Saudi state fund PIF (Public Investment Fund), with which Nizam al-Sheikh has already bought English football club Newcastle United.
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Liberty reportedly declined the offer, according to Bloomberg. So far, neither Formula 1 nor Saudi Arabia have commented on the rumors. Indeed, the FIA, in the person of its president, Mohamed Ben Sulayem.
FIA President Bin Sulayem warns of the consequences for the fans
Although he could not confirm the report either, it made clear what the FIA believed about the alleged takeover plans. Bin Sulayem warns that “any potential buyer should use common sense and take into account the greater good of the sport and have a clear and sustainable plan – not just a lot of money”.
The FIA president continues: “It is our duty to discuss the future impact on promoters in terms of higher racing fees and other commercial costs and any negative impact it may have on fans“.
In an interview with the English-language website ‘Motorsport.com’, he explained his concern as follows: Anyone who pays a lot of money for a product will make it more expensive in some places to “money back”. Promoters may then have to pay more money to be able to run the races and may have to pass the new fees on to fans, for example in the form of higher ticket prices.
Selim believes that the alleged offer is “exaggerated”.
The head of the International Automobile Federation classified the alleged offer from the Saudis as “exaggerated”. “Speaking with common sense: is Formula 1 worth that much?” he asks in an interview with Motorsport.com.
Ben Sulayem also stresses that his motor sport federation should be at the table in possible discussions about the future of Formula 1. “So far these are just rumours anyway. But I think the FIA should also be part of these talks or give advice. ”
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