F1 race promoters criticize Liberty’s ownership
A number of Formula 1’s race promoters have criticized Liberty Media’s ownership of the sport, saying there is a lack of clarity over its future direction.
Following meetings in London on Monday, the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA) — which is comprised of 16 of the current race promoters — issued a rare statement stating three main areas of concerns. In the statement, FOPA says it believes:
It is not in the long-term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting;
There is a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation;
New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events, although the association is encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective venues.
“As we enter a new season of the sport that we have promoted for many decades, the Promoters seek a more collaborative approach to the development of the championship and the opportunity to offer their experience and expertise in a spirit of partnership with Formula 1 and the FIA,” the statement added.
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FOPA is headed by British Grand Prix promoter Stuart Pringle, and stakeholders in the United Kingdom have been voicing concerns over a Bernie Ecclestone-signed deal that sees F1 moving away from free-to-air television to Sky Sports, with only the British GP to be broadcast on Channel 4 this season.
With regard to new races — of which there are none this season — only Hanoi is confirmed as joining the calendar in 2020, but Pringle told the Daily Mail that Liberty’s attempts to deliver a grand prix in Miami had annoyed existing promoters.
“Everyone is disgruntled,” Pringle said. “Liberty’s ideas are disjointed.
“We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now.
“Miami are seemingly getting a free deal. That has not gone down well with anyone, not least with the guys at Austin, Texas, who are working hard to make their race pay.
“If this continues, Formula 1 will be racing on second-rate circuits, if any at all.”
Silverstone is due to host the last race of its current contract this season, having triggered a break clause in attempts to renegotiate its previous deal — originally signed with Ecclestone back in 2009 — with Liberty. Races in Monza, Hockenheim, Barcelona and Mexico City are all also in the final year of their respective contracts.
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