Formula 1 chief Chase Carey admits he does not understand the criticism levelled at Liberty Media by the Formula One Promoter’s Association (FOPA) who claim that the sport’s newish owners are neglecting their needs.
FOPA released a statement last week airing their grievances claiming they are being mar=ginalised as the sports power brokers plot the future of Formula 1.
Speaking to ESPN, Carey said, “I think, realistically, if you get 21 in a room you are bound to find a couple who have something to complain about.”
“In all honesty, I thought the meeting [with FOPA] was incredibly positive. I thought there was tremendous support from the vast majority and they have a great appreciation for what we are doing.”
“The fact that a few of them wanted to find something to complain about, that’s life. It’s not going to change what we are doing, and by a large majority the promoters have been supportive and are excited about what we are doing,” added Carey suggesting that the dissent has arisen from only a few of the 21 promoters.
The main gripes highlighted by the promoters was a lack of clarity from Liberty with regards to future plans while they collectively lamented the lack of input with regards to the direction that F1 is set to take.
Carey countered, “They believe the sport, for them and in general, is in a much better place than it was a few years ago and is going in the right direction, and we have got a list of places we can’t accommodate [on the calendar] that we would like to add to the sport.
“It’s part of life, you are going to find a bunch of people who have something to complain about and are going to make noise. We will go forward and do what we are doing, which I think we feel good about.”
“I addressed all [the concerns], but realistically no-one brought any of them up, they just put it out in a press release, which was a little strange.”
Carey also questioned the timing of the FOPA statement, “I thought that was the strangest… because they put it out the night before [the meeting], so we already had a day set up to talk about initiatives and they – well, only a couple of guys – put out a press release saying we need to talk about initiatives. That was the strangest part.”
The F1 chief also explained plans regarding broadcasting of F1 and the shift towards pay-to-view, “We certainly value reach and in many places we have expanded the coverage on broadcast television.”
“There is no doubt that the sports world has been moving for a long time towards pay vehicles – if you look at football in Europe it is almost uniquely pay-platform based, and clearly digital is becoming a big force.”
“In reality, reach has been redefined, and if you want to reach a millennial today, you are not reaching them through a TV screen on a wall, you are reaching them through a device they are holding in their hand.”
“I think the whole world of TV and video is in a state of change and we want to figure out ways of dealing with the broadcast world, the pay world, the digital world and it’s all part of what we are figuring out and reach is important.”
Vietnam, a country without any motorsport culture whatsoever, will be on the Grand Prix calendar in 2020 and has prompted questions regarding the suitability of hosting a race in the 22nd poorest country in the world.
Meanwhile, there have been suggestions that the race at the Hermann Tilke designed street-circuit in downtown Hanoi was merely a knee-jerk reaction by the sport’s bosses to make up for their failed Miami Grand Prix ambitions.
Carey explained, “Certainly we are not pursuing new venues at the expense of existing [races]. The reality is we’ve renewed [contracts], since we took control about two years ago, and the only race we haven’t renewed is Malaysia, which was a mutual decision, so that’s the reality.”
“That being said, we want long-term partnerships and I think it’s important to provide a freshness and a new energy to it. Vietnam is a new race and is going to be a great race, so I think it’s exciting for the fans and the reception we have had around the world is excitement for it.”
“We want to be in some markets we are not in where there are some opportunities for it, and there are some that we are in but we are not there in the way we think we can be in. So in the United States, we are clearly in Texas but we think there is an opportunity to be bigger there.”
“I think we certainly value our existing partners and most of those relationships are long term and I expect most of them to continue. But I think it is important that where there is an opportunity to add something special, we can add a new race.”
Asked about the five races that are yet to renew their contracts, Carey replied, “As I’ve said in the past, we will talk about them when they are done. This sport seems to like to talk first and act second. I think these are complicated deals and we are engaged in each of them and we will see where we go.”
“There are issues we have got to wrestle around and we do have others that are being aggressive about wanting to be a part of the calendar and we don’t have that many slots.”
“But I’m not going to get into details, at this point those are private discussions between us and promoters, and Silverstone chose to make it public a couple of years ago, but we have continued to deal with it as a private discussion, with them and our other partners,” concluded Carey.