Maffei: Selling Formula 1 not in our cards

Maffei: Selling Formula 1 not in our cards

Maffei: Selling Formula 1 not in our cards

Greg Maffei, Chairman and CEO of Liberty Media, the Commercial Rights Holder of Formula 1 rebuffed reports that the sport is up for sale.

Earlier in 2023, reports emerged that Saudi Arabia through its sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), made an offer to Liberty Media to buy the commercial rights for F1, and were reportedly willing to pay and estimated $20-Billion for it.

At that time, FIA President, Mohammed Ben Sulayem labeled the $20-Billion price tag as inflated, which did not go down well with Liberty, who sent a legal letter to the FIA objecting on what they considered unacceptable remarks by Ben Sulayem, after which the Emirati announced he will be stepping back from day to day involvement in F1.

F1 has been enjoying a boom recently, with the longest calendar initially planned for 2023 – 24 races – before the Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled ahead of the season start due to Covid-19 restrictions, while the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was also cancelled due to torrential rain and floods devastating the northern Italian region.

F1 will have three races in the United States this year, the first of them being the 2023 Miami Grand Prix that took place two weeks ago, with Austin and Las Vegas still to come, and Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei couldn’t be more pleased with the state of affairs within F1 insisting all reports that its commercial rights are up for sale are far from the truth.

Liberty not selling, and more races planned

“Anyone says that our friends the Saudis are going to buy it next week or something like that, if anybody knows us, they should know that’s just not in our cards,” Maffei told the Moffett Nathanson Media and Communications Summit.

“We are very enthused about where Formula 1 is now but [also] where it’s going as well,” he added. “You look at the big revenue streams there, all have good direction. In broadcasting we have increased fans and we have increased distributors who want to push the product, including new digital distributors and the like. We have promoters who are our partners.

“The gate was probably [25%] up in Miami,” he said, pointing out to the increase attendance of the Miami Grand Prix. “That’s not unique. They’re selling out everywhere, particularly the high-end experiences, the Paddock Clubs, all at better prices. So we are able to get upticks in what we get paid.

“We have been able to add a few races and there’s maybe a little more room left there,” Maffei said of the already inflated F1 calendar. “And then sponsorship has grown dramatically. We’ve opened up the number of global sponsors. I think we’ve gone from five to 12 of our biggest sponsor types.

“We are continuing to see traction there and I think we’re well set up. We have a new opportunity with what we’re doing in Las Vegas where we will be the promoter and we have a opportunity to learn about something and hopefully set the bar,” the Liberty boss concluded.

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