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F1 poised for change of ownership as Qatar backs US sports mogul in take-over bid
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Donald Mackenzie
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Jun 2015   |  6:27 pm GMT  |  170 comments

F1’s owners CVC are set to consider a fresh bid to buy the sport from a group comprising the Qatar sovereign wealth fund and Stephen Ross, US based owner of the Miami Dolphins, via his RSE Ventures vehicle.

CVC has received a couple of bids, including a fresh bid from John Malone’s Liberty Media for 49%. Their most recent bid is understood to be larger than that of Ross and the Qataris, but the latter seems to be the front runner at present, possibly due to terms and conditions. Any bid will have to be approved first by FIA president Jean Todt, owing to the so-called “Don King clause” which gives the FIA a veto right over what it considers unsuitable owners of F1’s commercial rights holding company.

CVC bought the sport from a consortium of banks in 2005 using $1 billion and $2.5 billion of debt financing. They have so far earned around four to five times their money back and this final deal will make it one of their most successful investments ever. Nevertheless CVC’s managing partner Donald Mackenzie said it had been “an alarming company to own.”

It is debatable what state their legacy has left the sport in, however, with no clear strategy, little in the way of investment on infrastructure over the past decade and smaller teams struggling to survive while larger teams share a significant amount of the prize pot among themselves. There are great concerns within the sport, its sponsors, broadcasters and its fan base about long term strategy and direction as numbers decline on TV and heritage venues like Monza struggle to meet the financial requirements to host a race. Ecclestone is also known to be unhappy with the ‘product’ of F1 at the moment, blaming the introduction of hybrid turbo engines and excessive rules and regulations.

CVC sold down its shareholding to cornerstone investors ahead of a planned flotation in autumn 2012, but that did not go ahead as the market conditions were not favourable post the Facebook IPO and also the Gribkowsky bribery case, relating to the sale of the F1 business to CVC, had reared its head in Germany. The cornerstone investors set the potential market value of the F1 business ahead of the IPO at around US $10 billion. The forthcoming bid from Ross and the Qataris is around 80% of that, according to the Financial Times.

The investors are Waddell & Read, a US mutual fund company, which holds a 21 per cent stake, while other shareholders are Norges Bank Investment Management and BlackRock.

The flotation has still not happened. Norges has to exit the investment as it’s not permitted by Norweigian law to hold a stake in a private business.

Start Austrian GP

The cornerstone investors need a flotation or a sale within a certain deadline which is approaching, hence CVC considering a sale. Also there are signs from Brussels that the EU Competition Commission will soon launch an investigation into F1, following an official complaint, believed to be from teams no longer in F1. It is not known whether this has any influence over the timing of a potential sale.

CVC currently holds a 34% stake with Lehman brothers holding 15% and the cornerstone investors the rest, bar Mr Ecclestone’s 5%, which is also believed to be part of the deal. “My shares will be sold together with theirs,” he told the FT.

It appears that he could remain in F1 if this sale goes through, but not necessarily as chief executive.

As for the potential new buyers, Ross is 75 years old and has made a personal fortune of around $6 billion from property and ownership of the valuable NFL franchise Miami Dolphins.

Stephen Ross

As for the Qataris, they have orbited F1 for some time without committing. There is a Qatar Grand Prix in the pipeline, which now looks likely to go ahead, while Sir Frank Williams has been courting them for years for investment.

It is possible that the recently launched investigations into FIFA and the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar have stimulated them into diversifying their sporting portfolio and the opportunity to acquire F1 at this time made sense with Ross the proposed partner.

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170 comments

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1
Stephen Taylor

Will Bernie be leaving f1 then?

2

One can only hope!!!!

3

From the article you just read "It appears that he could remain in F1 if this sale goes through, but not necessarily as chief executive." So read into that what you will. He has been doing CVC's bidding and making CVC a fortune, as is his job, depends what the new owners want really, if it goes through.

4
Anil Parmar (Formulaediary)

More races in the middle East then?

CVC haven't done a great job promoting the sport,but they've only been in it for the money so hey ho. James, do you think this change of ownership could bring some positive changes?

5

@Anil Parmar

do you think this change of ownership could bring some positive changes?...

Sorry, not James - but yes, I would hope so. As you have mentioned, the current owners are only in it for the money - their strategy appears to have been; to squeeze as much out of the business as quickly as possible and then dump the stock before their lack of reinvestment starts to bite. The potential new owners are no doubt looking for a profit (you don't amass a personal fortune of $6billion without being focussed on profits) but, hopefully, they are looking at a longer term business plan and will invest some of the profits back into the sport. Maybe they could even try something like, oh I don't know, promoting the sport, instead of publicly running it down all the time.

We can at least keep our fingers crossed 🙂

6

I certainly hope the sale goes through with the NFL owner, and he takes the same business management and marketing strategies the NFL uses to F1. The NFL is by far the most successful sporting business on the planet, with revenues in excess of $11 billion with a market that is basically North America, barely 20% of F1's potential market. The NFL has a equitable revenue sharing scheme and salary caps for each team, exactly what F1 needs to undo the dumbness of its business arrangements with the teams. But who can fix the stupid formula now in place? Only Jean Todt.

7

@Kenneth

I doubt whether....

Don't misunderstand me, I am under no illusions. As I mentioned, the new owners - whoever they are (just read on another site; they believe this is all a bluff and is intended to twist the arm of another unknown bidder) - will want to make a couple of bob from this venture. But they can't continue asset stripping forever, as sooner or later there will be nothing left. Think of it like a landlord - they can only rent a property for so long before some maintenance is required. If they ignore the maintenance issues for too long then the value of their asset will start to suffer and the rental yield will fall.

So I remain positive 🙂

8

@ C63.....i doubt whether your hopes will be realised. however no one really has any idea. my contention would be that it would be unwise to expect any material changes to the status quo.

9

Not sure what's worse, Ecclestone or Qatar which is tainted by the FIFA scandal. Having said that, I don't really want another GP in the middle of the desert with no history or character. Looks like whatever the outcome of this investment, F1 is heading away from mass popularity.

10

Don't care where F1 GPs are going to take place in the near or far future, as long as they're exciting to watch.

11

Matt W

Totally agree seems tainted money swims alongside tainted Sporting Governing Bodies & tainted countries with appalling human rights issues.

Qatar (& its so called commercial businesses) however much it sees itself as a 'Golden Oasis of Sport' , is in reality a

'Hot Lead Enema' to anything credible in terms of common decency.

12

Qatar is a place like any other, its "deserts" have a richer history and character than most places on Earth.

Your words are very unfair.

As for FIFA, the noise will fizzle out, because you would be surprised at just how dirty everyone's hands are. Yes, including the pointing fingers.

Its a great idea to enjoy sports and live politics aside. Almost anything would be better than the CVC-Bernie combo which is slowly but surely strangling F1.

13

@ quade....that is quite a sweeping statement there. what makes you think that any new owners would be any different? same horse different jockey.

14

You may think his words are unfair, they probably are. But the fact is, I and I dare say the vast majority of F1 fans agree with him totally and are sick to death of being told where we should like to see races. WE want to choose where the races are, we are the fans!! The other fact in the matter is that most fans of the sport are from Europe, South America and Australasia region, and most of the epic historic classic tracks exist in these places. Sure, Qatar may have a rich history, but in terms of F1, it has very little history in comparisons to places like Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, Brazil etc.... I am 100% with MattW on this one, more races in Middle East = bad for F1.

15

Sheikh Al Thani, is that you?

16

I dont know if its just me or if it seems odd and slightly concerning the way F1 as a sport is 'owned' by these ludicrously rich individuals, corporations and even countries...

17

@Hello above...100% agree....one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist...just depends what side of the fence you sit on....

But back to the main topic...

Unfortunately F1 has now reached the point where ad men and sponsors rule the roost. Much like football is now more a business than a sport...so too can be said of F1. It has lost its way and has stopped being about the latest tech and 1/4 scale models and instead is now about profit and background long term business models.

Maybe it's me...the sport has evolved to what it is now...and maybe it's me that should change my outlook on the sport??

18

@Gyurio

I am not "befriending" any freedom fighters - far from it....it's the phrase that I am constantly being told by others who show sympathy to individuals who act as you have described.

remember I said "depends which side of the fence you sit on" ...I, my family and friends sit on the side affected by such acts.

as for the change of rulers....hahahahahahaha

19

@Cos

With as "clear" concepts as those you show about I can only think of the old saying: God protect me from my friends, I can protect myself from my enemies.

What kind of freedom fighter are you befriending ? Those who strap bombs on women and children and send them in places where other women and childrens are ( like markets) to indiscriminately kill as many as they can?

As for the F1 topic, remember another old saying: Change of the rulers, joy of the fools.

20

Hold on a tick there Stevo, Teams allow themselves to be owned by F1 because they want to have cars that are referred to as F1 cars and enter in races that are called a Grand Prix etc.

They enter contracts with the owners and, like any contract, give away certain things to obtain certain benefits (i.e.; cash and kudos).

Nothing stopping the teams from showing some backbone and setting up a different series with different rules. They've threatened to do this multiple times but always back down. A bit too hard and too much work and too much risk of it not paying off.

Can't really characterise CVC, Bernie etc as a "baddie". They are just ordinary (but very "successful") ruthless, profit-oriented business people. The same sort of people that often get held up as role models to our children....

"Oh look at him. He's a self-made man. He's worked hard and didn't suffer fools and kept his eyes on the prize and he might have bent the rules a bit, but he didn't really hurt anyone and now he's RICH!!.... blah blah..."

Sadly, that's just how the world is - and its becoming more so every day; obsessed with wealth and superficial appearances. We'd all be better off with more of a focus on values and ethics.

And I feel better for saying all that!

RB

21

It depends who the individuals and countries are - Mr E and Mr Ross may be avaricious (read greedy) but there is something very sinister about Qatar getting involved......

22

@ gaz boy....sinister ? please explain. that's some call. i expect that you will be equally disquieted about the russians as well. after all i think that they are actually the most sinister nation of all. a cup of twinings best polonium tea perhaps or a holiday in crimea and a first hand inspection tour of a field full of malaysian airliner parts!!!! quatar is so far removed as to be totally irrelevant on the 'sinister'scale.

23

Sinister?

Just think of the punishments for driver mistakes. One mistake and your career is over due to getting your hand cut off, hahaha.

Your right and thanks for pointing this out. James please inform the FIA so that they can use the Don King clause before something sinister happens.

@ TG

Nearly everyone (countries) funds terrorism.

Sweet lord (insert God name here), give me strength.

24

Mr grumpy...there is no f1 race in Qatar currently...

25

Gaz,

Not sure about "sinister". I know many Qatari's and I am often there. I could use many choice adjectives, but that isn't one....

Having said that, I think that their involvement at an ownership level would be completely wrong.

Nothing wrong with them having a GP, with a limit of two in region. Let them fight it out with their Abu Dhabi and Bahraini buddies 🙂

26

Agreed GazBoy, strongly opposed to this. I do NOT want Qatar getting its hand anywhere near our sport. It's bad enough we have to have a race there each year. Not to mention that it along with its sister in Abu D are probably the two most boring excuses for "race tracks" on gods not-so-green-anymore earth.

27

mean it makes me concerned as well

28

yes me as well. they have been known to fund terrorist organizations

29

My money is on DM to buy and run F1.

Red Bull Formula 1 Championship...get ready.

30

@ sebee...that is something that i would dearly like to see. DM is a switched on marketing dynamo and we would see F1 elevated to where it should be under his guidance.

31

That's why I think that not only is he likely to get it, but he's the man for the job too.

Is owning the sport, and owning the team a conflict of interest? Probably not in F1. But if he owns the sport, does he need to have a Red Bull Team?

"Winner of the Red Bull Formula 1 Championship is Red Bull Racing." Sounds a bit too much...

32

The valuation for the IPO puts the value at $10 billion. DM doesn't have that sort of money. He is wealthy but that wealthy.

33

Yeah, and AirBnB is worth $24B.

I'm sure there is some sort of logic to the F1 valuation. But if F1 can lose 40% of it's viewers for an event YoY, makes me wonder about how sound the business is.

34

I think that would be good. Just like Red Bull air race.

He would get great advertising to sell more drinks, and hopefully as a result return more of the commercial rights money to the teams.

Then hopefully he could attract the likes of VW, Porsche and Renault and others to have factory teams.

(to take over from Toro Rosso and Red Bull teams.)

His net worth is 10.8 billion US according to google so with financing and other backers, it wouldn't be impossible to do.

To me it seems like a lot of people strongly dislike Red Bull the team. If that is translating into a loss of sales for Red Bull drinks, then I can understand why they have threatened to quit.

35

....by "My", I mean Sebee - the legal entity that it is. By money, I mean theoretical commenter currency the JA$, which is what I used to pay for the free Red Bull being given away in the mall, that I took but didn't drink.

36

Clarks4WheelDrift, oh how you made me laugh. So many times I've said no one can spell Alguascarri without googling it. And here you are proving it. I'm a real fan, I know how to spell it. You on the other hand....

Axel, you sound like you have power of attorney to a few account like me. 🙂

Indont drink Red Bull...it gives you muffin top! We should hash tag it, like when Twitter was coming up with Keith Richards Children's books titles. Oh...riot.

37

Seebee, you are never going to get rich by spending your own JA$'s willynilly on frivolous consumables like free Red Bull.

When you say "my money" you should actually mean other people's money that they give to you, to invest in your 'guaranteed investment' fund (which is your account at the local bookie) on the sure thing that DM will buy F1.

38
Clarks4WheelDrift

😉

Ah, but did you not drink it because Seb has moved from Red Bull to Ferrari?

DM to buy it, I bet JEV, Buemi and Algluserri (aaargh, been too long I've forgotten how to spell his name) hope he does buy it.

Big bad CVC Don says it's 'an alarming company to own'. I say it's never been 'a company' to me and keep as much greed away from messing with our SPORT...

39

So how much debt will this one be financed with? Load it up, and rake it in, and do the same as CVC

40
Clarks4WheelDrift

you've spelt corruption wrong, it doesnt start with a d. 😉

41

I think it was paid for with 8 years in the slammer, but I suppose that equates to Sebees & $44million and probably add another &100m to a german court.. As clearly the "d" was/is "ongoing"

42

Nice 🙂

43

It was thought for a short while in Germany the spelling also was "€100m", but Bernie made them spell it "$100m".

44

You spelling wrong again. That's spelled like this: "$44m"

45

Debt? Qatar? I don't think so!

46

My understanding is that it's more like $5 billion. Good luck with that.

47

There is the small matter of about $1.5Bn to pay off, but as long as the income keeps flowing there is no need to do so. It is probably on a very low interest rate.

48

One day, all sports will be owned by Qatar. Then they won't have to even bid for them anymore.

49

F1 is a pretty good fit for Qatar. I just wish that if they got it, then they would hand back the football ... but I think you are right. They want all the toys. And for that alone, I can only hope they fall on their arse this time.

50

Sorry I meant Luca. ...damn predictive text!!! Grrrrrrr!!

51

@ Lucy....I agree with you in part....I. E. That they want "all the toys"....problem is they have the money....why not then have a go at those selling the "toys" so to speak??? We seem to be having a go at the wrong people here

52

I was out in the UAE a couple of weeks ago. Its shocking the amount of wealth there is out there.

In Dubai where I was staying every 9th or 10th car is a Ferrari, top of the range Merc AMG or top the range Landrover. A C Class Merc here would be like a peasants car over there.

All flights from Australia to Europe now stop in Dubai rather than Singapore due to the Emirates sponsorship.

And apparently Qatar has an even larger percentage of supercar owners per head of population than Dubai does.

Really quite crazy.

53

It is hardly a step in the right direction if F1 goes to Qatar.

54

Debatable the legacy CVC have left F1 in James? Not debatable at all, F1 is in far worse state than it was 10 years ago to say the least!

These new investors hardly sound encouraging either.

James, us f1 fans are just so utterly sick of it all.

55

I don't see this development as being positive progress, really...

56

Join the club. That's how I feel about these PUs - I shoehorned it in. Nice.

57

Not only the FIA, (and in this instance surely a full WMSC council meeting would be needed, not merely the opinion of a disinterested Todt. Disinterested in the sport that is and perhaps not the shareholding and income from it, which is believed by many to contravene the first EU Commission ruling.)

Ferrari also claim a right to approve or prevent a new owner, as did Bernie's shareholding conditions at one time, maybe still.

It could be that Bernie now finally recognizes that he has created such a Gordian knot of the F1 contracts and secret agreements and conditions that he can see no way to sort it out and is basically going to run away from it.

So the solution that I think many fans would like to see is Bernie's exit, the end of FOM the resignation of Todt. The re-confirming and enforcement of the original EU Commission rulings,

A completely new financial structure of ownership and media rights allowing the circuits to make money, and the teams to be paid fairly.

Ideally the rights should be held by and independent FIA trust who dole out prize money and subcontract the airfreight, take in the tv and advertising money. With realistic circuit fees we could revive some missing European races.

HOWEVER that ideal solution relies on the current rights agreement being canceled. FOM being designated unsuitable since they appear to have broken EU rulings. But that means FOM's owners/shareholders income ceasing and the debt servicing stopping. I cant see them allowing that to happen without a lengthy fight, probably into the next century.

We do not want a continuation of the current systems, merely under a new majority shareholder, in FOM or Delta Topco or any other holding company. The FIA owns the rights, we need a new VP of F1 someone with the balls to run it and not virtually give it away to their mate.

58

Good points about the spoils being more equitably distributed. I like Ferrari but they are owned by a multinational for christ's sake; they shouldn't walk off with most of the prize money just to show up. They act like they own F1 and while they are important, they need F1 as much as F1 needs them. And the circuits need to be cut in on the deal rather than going broke trying to host one of these things. Seems to me that nearly everything is wrong with the current model. Been great for CVC but they are killing the proverbial goose and its golden eggs.

59

Ferrari are the least of the problem.

The big issues are elsewhere, and those are the ones that need solving first...

60

It like McDonalds marketing says Red & (Yellow) are eye catching.. So all we need is a yellow team and a jumping castle for the kids.

61

Ferrari own F1.

There are still people saying that they follow the sport and have not realized it.

Have you notice how much press/media coverage and head lines Ferrari get?

Most of the times an home page of a related F1 site open with a ferrari picture and any time they have a slight chance to compete for a win, ferrari get more coverage than all the other teams combined

If they quit the sport, they will take 40% of the audience away and the sport will call it a day.

62

And yet...it lives!

63

If the EU was doing performing proper oversight they would void the original Max/Bernie 100 year deal. Ownership of F1 should be vested in the teams that have supported F1, allocated by their years of participation in the sport.

64

+1

Its not rocket science, is it?!

65

Good post and I agree 100%. If the EU were to declare the 100 year commercial rights deal void I doubt it there is much left to be sold. Starting all over again could only be good for F1. If I were Bernie I'd be running for the hills!

66

I'm pretty sure that for Bernie running is out of the question. He's one thousand years old.

67

Hmmmmm - I agree that in principle it would be the ideal scenario, but in practice it would be a long, drawn out process, with the sport living in limbo during the process.

Microsoft vs the EU took best part of a decade to reach a conclusion!

68

Think the time is right now for a break away series if this sale goes ahead and that the tracks and teams that have been dropped form their own championship where the teams and circuits can make money more fairly. they should not restrict innovation only have a cap on how much is spent to make it sustainable

69

No, Ferrari has veto right over CEO, not who owns the sport

70

Even with the Veto for "only" the CEO that doesn't seem very fair on all the other teams!

71

The worst thing that could happen is f1 to get a new owner and somehow bernie will cling to his job. The only reason these guys will be buying it is cos they know it's a cash cow and they'll basically get money for nothing. However hopefully these guys will invest all the profits back into f1 but i seriously doubt it.

72

They could hardly be worse than CVC!

73

Think Polo. Who plays polo? Who watches it? Why is there no mass-market tentacle attached to polo, with aristocrats playing, those absolutely gorgeous horses, the simple rules, the lovely women watching?

Except for "simple rules" and the substitution of factories for aristocrats and the cars for the horses, I've described F1. The players are heavy on money, and it's obvious - more money = better results. Uh, usually. So my point is, I think F1 is headed for polo status...

74

C63 - Thanks for the correction.

75

My poorly made point is that F1 is working its way toward a limited, mostly rich audience such as polo has. High sanctioning fees, high ticket prices, high-rollers with fingers in every part of the pot and plot. It is not dead yet, but it's easy (for me) to see that young people before their prime earning years are going to lean toward watching on television, where the sense of speed is severely diluted and the sense of presence, of being a part of the sport, is gradually lost. If racing is excitement, and television is the only access to the F1 brand of excitement, then World Rally, BTCC, NASCAR, DTM, etc., are equal competitors in terms of access and better in terms 'excitement', whether it be more overtaking, intentional wheel-banging, or simply the SOUND of it. That's my point and I'm sticking to it.

76
ReallyOldRacer

Ah yes, the aroma of Tacoma. I can say that, I was born there. Jack, explain to me why your polo scenario is so bad. Because we all enjoy watching F1 we lose sight of the fact that the sport is about the competitors, or at least it used to be. The racers are quite capable of demanding safety and proper facilities, adequate prize $, fair rules, etc.. Your polo model is close to F1 during the first two decades of the modern era. That is a good thing, not a bad one. Quality racing and there is still a place for those of us who want to spectate. We probably won't have the rock concerts at the venues, but so what; sometimes playing small ball is best. The only reason that we have all of this fuss about fan appeal is because the money grubbers want to grub more money. Think about it.

77

absolutely gorgeous horses..

Polite correction - they are ponies, not horses . Apart from that, I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say!

78

I am always amused when we don't take the name of the actual person in Middle-East. We say the Saudis, the Iraqis, the Iranians etc. even though there could be only person participating in the decision-making process. For example, the article says "Ross and Qataris" ...here Qataris is some unknown entity consisting of perhaps only 1 person. Why don't we get the names of the people in Middle-east as if we are dealing with some kind of underworld mafia?

79

James,

I know you do have your finger on pause of thing that are happening in F1, but with the trouble still brewing over the FIFA and the Qatar. I don’t think personally this has much traction.

I think they (Qataris) will be exposed as cheaters in getting – claiming the FIFA rights for the World Cup, and that will cast a very dark shallow over F1, and the FIA if they were successful.

As for John Malone’s Liberty Media, he is carrying so much debt – paper right now, one wonders how he will be able to finance it, plus he is looking at a JV with Vodafone, and that would then take him out of the running. Currently they are only starting out on a JV and asset swap is the opening bid – talks.

I think personally the one that carries a lot of traction and is workable, is Red Bull. Plus James you have mention in the past about what Red Bull does with the sports that they are currently involved in.

Renault is either in or out of F1. If they stay in then, they would be perfect to acquire the Red Bull team and there new Technology Centre. If they are really smart, they would cut in Adrian Newly for 10% of the deal. Bob Bell is moved across to be the new Team Principle.

As for the Toro Rosa Team, Burger has been talking to two Billionaires about F1. They could acquire the Red Bull shares in this smaller team, with Burger re-installed as Team / Owner – team principle, looking after their interest. This team also currently has shareholders from UAE, and they may increase there holdings.

Now that Red Bull is out of team ownership and engine problems, plus we know that the EU will come down on the way appearance fees and the prize fund is paid out, teams would most likely lose this large appearance fee format.

They Red Bull acquire CVC 35%, based on a valuation of $8 Billion dollars, plus they take out Bernie’s 5% and the Norwegians share. That would leave Red Bull owning around the 50% plus and give them overall direct control of F1.

Red Bull can now afford to acquire the CVC shares with the sale of the teams and Centre, plus the amount they put into sponsorship of the teams and drivers. That is a substantial amount each year. The markets would jump at the chance to help bridge the funding, if it is need, given their massive cash flow they generate from selling red bull. (I think they sell 5 billion cans of the stuff per year or more)

Christian Horner comes in as an understudy to Bernie, and Bernie stays on as a consultant for a few more years, while Horner learns the rope.

It would be re-branded as Red Bull F1 championship, so no need to sponsor any teams, or for that matter any drivers.

Horner made a smart comment and that is have Ross Brawn as an independent technical adviser to the FOM people and he works / devises a new set of rules to make F1 more fans friendly and also more demanding on engineers.

80

Toro Rosa -- love it! Red Bull & Pink Bull...

81

Reallyoldracer,

Yes Red Bull would most likely shake things up a little, but I doubt they would change too much, with the actual racing format.

One thing they may do, that is make the “third” driver of each team, take one of the free practises, which counts towards their Super license. Remember Red Bull has spend a small fortune on their young driver academy, with questionable results. Two from a pretty big pool of talent has only come through, but they do support the young driver.

Also Dietrich Mateschitz does respect history – heritage, and given that he has been in F1 since, I believe 1995; starting with Sauber, he has lasted a very long time in this sport. So either he likes the sport or it has been extremely good to him, regarding the marketing of his drink. But, and I think the reason that Bernie likes him; he has spend one heck of a lot money in the sport.

To grow the business he needs to work out how to engage the youth market, and in that he needs to keep all the historical tracks where F1 made its name all those years ago. So I think he will look at what is been charged to the circuit owners and reduce that to bring back the fans. He needs to fill the Grandstands or the whole thing looks pretty stupid on TV.

As for the Bernie –heritage – appearance fee that he pays Ferrari, $100M per year or $5m per each race just to turn, that would have to be stopped. Sure Ferrari would throw their toys out of the pram pretty damn quick, but we need to remember they don’t spend a single penny on advertisement for their road cars. Not a single penny, it is all done on the back of F1, so they, more than anyone else needs to be in F1.

82

ReallyOldRacer, Sprinklers!! Don't forget the Sprinklers!! Spraying golden Red Bull...don't worry, it will just be coloring.

83
ReallyOldRacer

@keith, your model is well thought out and presented, and it scares the hell out of me. I can just see it now, 360 degree loops added to the front straightaways and four quali races each weekend with reverse order grid positions for the final, and two drivers given a 10 second head start based on "fan" votes. Red Bull, indeed.

84

Sebee & Andrew

I think there is a general nervousness within CVC about this pending EU investigation into F1. In theory it shouldn’t knock the value of FOM to much, as the real value is in the contracts regarding the TV rights / income and the Circuits. This income stream is very strong and solid, plus locked in long term, with 5 to 10 years or more contracts.

Of the two possible bids, both of them would load up the business with a heck of a lot of debt, again. Even the Qataris would put in some debt. There Fund isn’t doing that well, given the price of Gas has dropped, and right now we don’t know when it will return to its previous highs.

Bernie has said that if CVC sell out then he will also sell, but I think if Red Bull buys CVC share and the Norwegians shares, Bernie could stay in and not sell out.

Red Bull air races, which is a mixed fan base, but mostly older males. So Red Bull just doesn’t target the youth market, but we do need to start working on ways to engage the youth – male & female market sectors for F1 to survive over the next 25 years or so.

Red Bull would also use social media and that could bring in more fans or increase the youth side of the mix, which I think would be welcome by sponsors.

85

@Andrew. Business is business.. What do you think CVC have in common with F1- thats right- diddly squat. Red Bull as an entity is absolutely ideal for F1- they sponsor / run more sports- particularly motor sports than many others combined!.

In fact they would have to pull out of F1 if they were to buy in. But I cant see them doing that unless the FIA were prepared to rewrite the script- 2017 is looming and a smart investor would just wait and use (read add to the threat) of the EU Commission to drive the price down. 1 more year and more dwindling audiences may well do that anyway. If Red Bull pull out & Renault pull out, whats F1 really worth?

86

I vote Keith to replace BE as CEO 🙂

Seriously, its a very sensible plan - the only part I don't like is BE staying on. He was the right guy for the 80's and 90', and has grown the sport tremendously, but he is too out of touch with the current generation of fans. If anything, in recognition of his past contributions he could have a non-exec or advisory role, but someone else should be at the steering wheel.

Lets hope the current stewards of the sport (I refuse to use the word "owners") do the right thing.

87

The only thing wrong with this scenario is that Red Bull is a beverage company focused on the young adult market. F1 successfully targets older men who wear Rolexs and don't drink Red Bull. I think F1 has been a hobby only for Mr. Mateschitz.

88

As I said above Keith, my JA$ is on DM as owner of F1 too . Maybe he's put a lower valuation so they drag this pseudo party in to create an illusion of some buyer competition and push DM or others to act. DM's no rookie though.

Only DM can make F1 work like Bernie had. Anyone else..well, they will be given the final act grand finale by the Maestro himself. I wouldn't mind seeing it play out to be honest, so either way we will be entertained.

89

Is the Qatari Sovereign Wealth fund

90

Isis?

91

Do you mean IS is the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund?

92

Out of the frying pan...

93

...into the desert?

94

F1 never lacks intrigue off the track. At least we can trust Bernie and CVC to get the most dosh out of Qatar.

95

Particularly ironic that Ecclestone should criticise the present F1 setup as it was his brainchild. It illustrates his lazy management style of changing responsibility in order to shift the blame.

Let's hope any future sale will see the demise of this hackneyed uses care salesman.

96

Apart from taking a large % of profits off the top, does CVC actually do anything for it?

It's interesting to compare it to other professional sports. So many:. The FA, Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, NFL, NBA, MLB, ECB, etc; concentrate on maximizing funding for the sport, and expanding the sport, rather than generating a return for investors.

If the teams had broken away in the 2000's, like they threatened to do, they could have set up a Premier League like structure, where the profits are shared between the teams without billions of revenue disappearing out of the window. Instead we have an increasingly marginalized sport where the driving force of the people running it is short term profit.

97
ReallyOldRacer

@Cuba, what you and every other poster on this sight fail to recognize is that Bernie tried to do exactly what you propose when he acquired the rights to promote F1. He actually offered equal shares to the team owners. They passed, and so the munchkin followed the France family Bashcar model and got rich all by himself, sucking $ from the sport. The difference is the question of whether it is better to get $100 from 10m Lunchbox Larrys, or $1000 from 1m Rolex Randys.

98

Are you sure about FIFA?

99

Yes, check them out.

100

Sounds like a final nail in the sports coffin to me.

If you think more races in the Middle East is the right answer... Well, Enjoy.

101

[mod] F1 should "belong" to its fans and the Governments of countries. The fans pay 2 Euros to watch each race.....and the Governments put the show on in their countries because they will make the money from the TV Companies broadcasting the event, plus the publicity for their nation, the prestige, the glamour, the business schmooooooozing they do at every race.......all the benefits of a "Global" sport. (I use the term "sport" veeeeery loosely there. #:). ) I would gladly pay 2 Euros to each country that is hosting the GP weekend. I begrudge paying to watch to ANYONE ELSE!!!!! #:)

102
ReallyOldRacer

Racehound, I apologize in advance for the sarcasm. Yeah, great idea, let's get the govmunt involved...that always works.

103

There are plenty of Governments already involved all over the world. Look how many cities and countries Bernie looks to fund races - threatening to pull out and send the race elsewhere unless they come up with ever increasing race fees.

The Qatari sovereign wealth fund might also disagree with you.

Still, it needs an independent body to run the sport, with putting on the best show as it's primary objective, rather than the taking money out to pay people who are already fabulously wealthy.

104
Stephen Taylor

James I have two things to ask you:

If Qatar hosted a GP would it be on a new street circuit or on the Losail Circuit used in Moto GP

2 Do you think the outcome of the Swiss investigations into the 2022 World Cup bid and any potential rev-vote that might be required may affect chances of Qatar having a GP?

105

2. The FIFA 2022 investigation will matter not one jot here. CVC is a private company and can sell its assets to whomever they please. Anyway we can be sure that anyone in Qatar who is likely to be fingered by the Swiss will be well protected, anonymous and nowhere near being named as associated with this F1 bid.

106

1. Street track I believe
2. No, other than making it more likely!

107
Anil Parmar (FormulaeDiary)

That's a shame because Losail is a brilliant track! Would love to see an F1 car take it on.

108

Is this going to happen, or is this something being talked about by various entities?

Just curious, because Bernie floats so many ideas out there, for whatever purposes, that never come to pass. Is this real?

109

This hasn't come from Bernie!!

110

I didn't necessarily mean that it was coming from Bernie, but rather that it seems like the kind of tactic he uses. I didn't word it very well.

Joe Saward posted an interesting analysis of the situation on his blog that is kind of what I was thinking when I initially posted. There seems to be some other motivations at play.

111

James,

What are the chances of an investment by the teams themselves? Anything you have heard?

Thanks.

112

It's common sense but it doesn't ever seem to happen.

If this deal goes ahead it's for all of F1. I'd cut the teams in on 5% to keep them on the hook and engaged.

113

How would this work, cutting the teams in? Do ALL teams share 5%? If teams leave, an individual team's share of the 5% goes up and if new a new team comes, it goes down as the new team is included?

114

Those who can afford it would be in; those who couldn't wouldn't, if you work on a pure capitalism model

But you might take the view that F1 absolutely needs the teams, (especially the famous ones) and they won't walk away so readily if they have some 'skin in the game'. That said, the promoters would be wary of a revival of FOTA, which unionised the teams into a collective force. The bigger threat is the circuits getting together, however.

115

Very interesting. Thanks James, I personally would like to see this article followed up when appropriate.

116

F1 is history in some ways. Watch the movie "1" to see the real F1. The deaths were terrible but it was raw, visceral and emotional. The personalities were big and it wasn't run as a massive corporate boondoggle and advertising junket. Just look at how the drivers are muzzled these days. They give a brief interview where a team minder shoves a Dictaphone in their face and we get a minimal sterilized response that appears on all F1 related media. That's it! Gone are the days of Hekwith racing. And a James Hunt would be arrested if he got near the paddock because he might damage some corporation's image.

The whole thing is run as a movable promo party for corporate hospitality and a bunch of rich people who want to revel in the legacy glamour of F1. The racing is secondary if that.

As for the turbo/hybrid engines it is probably the right thing from a public policy standpoint but totally wrong from a racing standpoint. Why have something so bloody complicated that teams like McLaren /Honda and Renault/Red Bull are reduced to looking incompetent. How's that good for the sport?

117

F1 can't be run worse then what it is now... radical change is its only hope... anything less will leave it on course to failure.

The new structure should not let the teams have any say in the rules... as they are too selfish to do the right thing for the fans.

Greed has wrecked a highly watch able spectacle - now, I can't even stomach a few minutes of the DRS overfakes etc...

118
ReallyOldRacer

Ron, I am going to write this just one more time and then I will shut up and go take my Geritol. F1 is NOT about the fans and it should not be so. It is about the racers. If they put on an event that you and I want to watch, so be it, and somebody will find a way to make a buck helping us do that. If not, then they will go racing for the thrill of racing. Yeah, I know, I'm old and live in the past. However, sometimes change is not progress.

119

Can I just say one more time that you are absolutely and completely right. Everyone, please take note. This is one of the fundamentals of what makes F1 F1 (and makes it draw crowds). Start pandering to "the fan" (I can already hear this imaginary new VP of marketing) and the show will suffer - the lustre will disappear

(they'll still be racing though).

120

I couldn't possibly agree more, old timer.

121

Ross, Hass, Chrysler ( Meaning Marhchione based in Detroit) is F1 becoming American?

122
ReallyOldRacer

@andrew, Haas is a global marketer of machine tooling and Marchionne is Fiat CEO. Chrysler is only a part of Fiat, just like Ferrari, Alfa, etc.. Bye the bye, F1 has been in America for longer than all but the core European countries. I have no idea why Stephen Ross wants to invest in F1 other than he is a very wealthy person and can do whatever tickles his fancy. Perhaps he was upset that he couldn't get a prime mooring during May in Monte Carlo and so decided to take action. One thing for sure, he hasn't done squat for the Miami Dolphins other than watch his investment increase in value. He does have great seats for the games. Wait, maybe there is a pattern here. hmmm

Nick Craw, an old American racer, is probably in line to be the next head of the FIA so your American F1 reference might be on target.

123

Go ovals!

124

Typical private equity behaviour. Buy something of value (not just financial value), run it into the ground while milking it for every penny that can be squeezed out. Move on. Lovely. I can understand it, but I don't have to admire it.

125

ha, ha, rasbob understands private equity all too well! A bunch of predatory financial grifters who use other people's money and tons of bank debt to take over productive enterprises and then bilk the business for every dime, frequently destroying the business in the process. The banks in are in on the scam as well in terms of higher fees and interest. It's literally a modern day version of piracy! Perfectly legal but piracy nonetheless.

126

No use speculating really, but I think either one would be an improvement on CVC.

Frankly, the whole thing's ironic - a sign of the times perhaps. I mean, the mistake that led to this sad state of affairs was made three decades ago; and yet, I'm convinced we will miss Bernie when he's gone. Yes, yes, yes, I know - he made billions... but the man loves Formula 1.

And let's not forget, recent troubles started not because Bernie's all-powerful; they started because he no longer is.

127
ReallyOldRacer

Bernd, great point!

128

The article reads that it is debatable how CVC has left the sport.

I really don't think it's that debatable. You would be hard pressed to find anyone to argue that the sport of F1 is in better shape now than it was before they took over.

129

There is something fundamentaly wrong when the owners of F1 can make literally billions of dollars and yet half the grid are struggling to stay afloat and countries like Germany and Italy can't afford to host a race.

it makes me really quite cross

130

It's called capitalism.

131

Hey....there are always reruns! In his spare time soon Bernie will put out past seasons...remastered on BluRay. Order now!

132

Qatar want a G.P. Bernie has a "gentleman's" agreement with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain with regards to them having a veto 0ver another mid-eastern G.P. This is one way to prove a point to your neighbours, nice to have the $$$$$ to do it.

133

Whatever one's feelings about Qatar's involvement, it's worth noting that the NFL's revenue distribution is far more enlightened than FOM's current jiggery-pokery - downright socialist, in fact (somewhat ironically).

134

Count me in the crowd who thinks CVC have overseen a decline in the sport. I'm no expert but it's rare that I see fans asking for tracks in new countries like Qatar or Azerbaijan. I also see fans of the top teams admitting that the current revenue sharing structure is flawed.

Hopefully CVC WILL sell, and sell to someone useful!

135

Contrary to what people think here, my personal opinion is if Bernie leaves, the sport becomes mediocre.

Say what you will, but to spend over 40+ years in a sport. That's love.

Falls, many.

Joys, also many.

The new people? They'll be clinically sterile. In their approach. In their plans. In everything.

Not *really* interested in seeing Bernie go.

Peace.

136

For several billion dollars, anyone would love F1 for 40+ years. Bernie has been pillaging the sport right under your nose with your approval. Why are tracks not able to afford the fees, because Bernie keeps raising them!

With outside investors, at least we KNOW what they are in it for, with Bernie, he's conned you into thinking he's in it for the sport, when he's taken out more billions than all the teams combined.

137

Make that 64 years. I agree: Bernie is Formula 1. In spite of his flaws (all too human), he loves the sport and understand what makes it great better than some new VP guy. Be very careful what you wish for here. The current mess is Bernie's making, but mostly because in his desperate efforts to maintain his grip on the sport he's actually lost it. The future looks bleak.

138

Can't decide whether this is a good or a bad thing. Obviously, all is not well within F1 but is Qatar's involvement going to be the right thing for the sport? After the FIFA scandals, i am a little nervous. Yes, changes are needed within the sport but is Qatar, with no tradition or history in the sport, the right people to be involved in F1?

139

I very much doubt that Qatar's involvement in F1 would be a good thing.

140

No, No, NO!

This is just wrong! Qatar??! Whilst I disagree with the terrorist funding / GP in the desert / shady football world cup diatribe, I would base my argument on the motive or driver for their investment.

With CVC it was clear-cut: they are a PE firm and wanted to make as much money as possible. Dumb decision to sell to them, as there is only a partial alignment with the interests of the sport and its stakeholders. And a complete misalignment with the interests of the fans, without which the value of the sport is zero.

With Qatar: Self promotion. They are not interested in the sport, just on putting Qatar on the global map. Its a purely ego driven investment, that in no way aligns with the NEEDS of the sport.

The so called "ownership" of the sport needs to be (at least majority) in the hands of the stakeholders: F1 teams, the racing venues, and possibly tier-1 suppliers and sponsors. These are the people that are putting resources into the sport, so they have a vested interest in the governance.

The current "ownership" model is completely absurd. What the heck to CVC & Co put into the sport? Nothing! How can they own a "product" in which they have zero participation in the risk? The obvious corporate model is that of the Premier League, where every club is a shareholder.

Good grief, selling to the Qatari's, a business mogul or anyone else who isn't a current stakeholder will just further perpetuate the current status-quo. Well at least till the fans give up and turn-off....

141

Ideally F1 should be a Cooperative of manufacturers, F1 teams, circuits & governments.

I know, Venture Capitalists loathe Cooperatives as they have a very limited return. They won't be able to milk it as they do now. However, a Cooperative would be in the best interest of the Sport, Society and the fans. Especially amidst the very turbulent times we're dealing with right now.

On a side note. How is WEC run?

142

"Whilst I disagree with the terrorist funding / GP in the desert / shady football world cup diatribe"

How come?

143

@Ed - My bad. I should have been clearer: The terrorist funding / human rights / corruption allegations etc... are a matter of serious concern in a much wider context. But I think it would be somewhat specious to politicise what is essentially a sporting discussion in this particular context.

144

A Sovereign Wealth fund, mentioned by James in an earlier comment, is a state-owned investment tool. There is some concern that foreign investment by SWFs raises national security issues because investments in strategically important industries may be for political rather than financial gain.

Qatar is a very conservative Islamic country, with a poor track record on such things as homosexuality, gender equality and of course human rights for its migrant workers, and has reported links to ISIL, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, and at the same time engaging with Israel and the US - yes, go figure. In short, this tiny little country is deeply immersed in ME politics and conflict, and through its deep rivalry with Saudi Arabia seeks a form of supremacy in the region.

So you have to at least ask the question if it really is a good thing for FOM to be managed in part by the Qatari state - albeit via its SWF - and what the consequences will be both for politics and a cash-dependent sport such as F1 in the long run.

Certainly from my point of view it is not acceptable for FOM to be part-owned by Qatar at the very least because it does tend to legitimise and indeed potentially increase migrant worker exploitation, which even the Qataris themselves do not deny they are guilty of.

I do not think that the sport will improve as a spectacle either. We really need innovation in the sport so that it is not so utterly dependent on money to win, otherwise it is in danger becoming a propganda parade of the wealthiest teams winning in a sport controlled by the wealthiest investors.

145

If it involves getting rid of Bernie Eccleston, it must be a good deal. Get someone with a real love for the sport and it's history, Jackie Stewart for instance, and happy days for F1

146
ReallyOldRacer

"Get someone with a real love for the sport and it’s history, Jackie Stewart for instance, and happy days for F1"

Steve, it's time for a F1 history lesson, but my class is full. One thing for sure, Bernie does love F1 and, crikey, he is a huge part of its history. Greedy little munchkin and not PC, but it is impossible to question his love for the sport.

As for JYS, my fav driver all time...well, that's part of the class curriculum.

147

I personally thin we now have way too many fly away rounds of which I find pretty ordinary anyway. The current F1 crisis (because it is) is not helping the situation.

I think its time F1 revisited what made it special, go back to the past where you heard it, felt it and lived it. This generation will never witness the awesome power F1 demanded and thats sad.

148

Whoever the owners are, just bring back the V10 or at least V8s, get rid of the bloody hybrid V6 turbo. Can't stand anymore. I about had enough of the current ones, giving up F1 if they don't change.

149

I just want to point out that I did not just drop off 12 coupons for pints at Steven's mailbox. I don't even know Steven, so how could I?

150

Come to think of it, Bernie really is an amazingly acute 85yr old. He is right about so many things. Social media? The sport doesn't need it at all. I mean, what will it bring our beloved sport? We're going to draw kids by bombarding them with funny messages?

And big personalities... Yes, far too many nondescript kids these days - Bernie's right.

I'm going to miss his non-PC I couldn't care less attitude.

151
ReallyOldRacer

@Bernd, I'm not sure if you are serious or tongue in cheek, but your comment actually makes a lot of sense. If he just wasn't such a greedy little munchkin maybe he would have maintained more rational control of F1 over the past decade.

152

It was not tongue in cheeck, ROR, but I can understand why you would think that. It seems Ecclestone blaming is the default setting on F1-fora these days (closely followed by making unsubstantiated claims about the "untapped potential" of a bigger social media presence).

153

While it is trite that any purchasers will be motivated by profit, one can only assume that prospective purchasers are aware of the many challenges that are currently facing F1 and which have been leading to reduced fields, competition, attendance and viewing numbers. In the result, I believe that there is reason for optisim that the successful bidders will see that significant changes are required to not only protect the 'brand', but to ensure the survival of F1 and indeed growth in the coming years.

Brad

154

I've said this before but the FIA should own F1 end of. If they do not wish to manage the commercial side themselves they should tender a facilities management contract where they pay a fixed fee to a commercial company to have the series managed to their specified criteria. This would not include maximising profit as the FIA should aim NOT to make more than a nominal profit. This way circuits could be charged lower fees, spectators could afford to attend. The contract would run for a fixed term a little like the UK Lottery - 5 or 7 years perhaps. They could even specify that the TV contract must include free to air for countries where that is possible. The idea of a commercial rights holder is plain daft and should never have come into being. Man up FIA and outsource the management if you don't want to do it in house!

155

Dream on; it's not going to happen. It would need a revolt the size of the French revolution to wrestle back control of the sport. You can't simply force someone to hand over a business worth billions of dollars, and even if the EU were to step in, the result would be something not even remotely resembling what you're suggesting. Sure, they didn't back down with Microsoft, but the settlement in cases like this is always proportionate to the size of the business. No, the only solution is for the teams to close ranks and play hardball. Whether something like that is in the cards I haven't the foggiest.

156
ReallyOldRacer

+1. I don't really know what +1 means in tech talk, but I think that it is a good thing. Spot on, warley.

157

We just need the EU to void the 100 year contract and preferably void the existing FIA as well so we can start again with a new FIA !

158

Given the tenuous state of the sport and instability of the business model I can't see why anyone with a brain would pay much more than 8-times EBITDA for FOM. And that's for the EV (equity + debt). If I remember correctly FOM's EBITDA is about $500 million, so I'd say it's worth $4.0 billion tops. And I bet they've loaded almost that much debt on the thing, making the equity worth zippo.

Good luck, Mr Ross. I hope you like going to races.

159

James, slightly off-topic yet relevant, if Bernie was to die, for example 'right now', what effect would it have in the short term on the F1 circus if any? Is there anything about his position and job that would interrupt the show for the teams and spectators?

(Sorry this is not meant as a cue for all the anti-Bernie sub-comments! Quirky though he may be I still think he's the best man for the job and would be good to keep on in any new ownership, for as long as he can continue).

160

+100. Nobody knows up till today. But I don't think anytime soon, he's immortal!

For the fans if F1 gets better who runs it dosen't really matter. Important that we can afford and enjoy it and most of all the racing drivers are happy and able to race flat out for at least 80%.

161

It would crash JAonF1 servers.

It would set comment records.

162
GPBacktoAdelaide

Dear Citizenfour,

Thanks to its cooperation with the British and Germans, the US govt already has access to your JAonF1 keystrokes!

Regards,

Julian

164

I only need to Donald Mckenzie and my blood boils. Sport going to the dogs. Private equity companies don't do legacy. You reap what you sow.......

165

The crux of the problem, I think, is this. Bernie was handed the commercial rights to the sport a good long time ago. We can mope about this - call it unfair - but that's just silly. Ownership is the cornerstone of modern society.

So, Bernie grew the business. He was clever, no doubt about it, but at the same time the thing grew organically - as a result of the Senna/Prost battles, which raised the sport's profile; as a result of a globalizing world, et cetera (Bernie'd be the first to admit it).

When the sport grew, the monies grew. Bernie made money, the teams made money. Now we might say it's unreasonable that the shareholders take 40%, but this is a relative thing. You may think 10% or 15% is reasonable, but based on what?, and the only way they're going to get a bigger share collectively (the teams) is if they can force the shareholders to take less (because why would they voluntarily agree?). Bernie's thinking is that the teams used to spend 50 million a year - now even the smaller teams are spending at least double that; and why should he give them more? If he gives them more, they will spend more; they should live within their means.

Then CVC enters the picture. Bernie's feeling weak. With the collapse of Kirsch the commercial rights have fallen into the hands of a consortium of banks; Bernie's afraid they will try and marginalize him, so in an act of desperation (which had nothing to do with money), he helps the wrong people buy the business - on condition that he keeps running the show. The weakness is still there, though, so Bernie makes a second mistake - he lets himself be pressurized into separate deals with the bigger teams, which has a two-pronged effect: the bigger teams sense weakness, the smaller teams feel slighted.

So where does it leave the sport? Nowhere. Having a man like Bernie single-handedly run the sport may have been the best way to do it. The future will bring new owners, who will want to milk or market the sport, but there will still be various stakeholders fighting with unequal say, and disenchanted fans.. It's a mess.

166

"Ownership is the cornerstone of modern society." What does this actually mean?

Frankly, it is not about weather or not it is owned- that is a given. It is about WHO owns it. Bernie was handed the commercial rights by Max Mosley for the grand sum of £1, as I recall. Correct me if I am wrong James.

But that was where it all went right - or wrong - depending upon your point of view.

I think it might be instructive to examine another example of ownership and compare this with Formula 1 e.g.:

"The Premier League is a private company wholly owned by its 20 Member Clubs who make up the League at any one time. Each individual club is independent: working within the rules of football, as defined by the Premier League, The FA, Uefa and Fifa as well being subject to English and European law.

Each of the 20 clubs is a Shareholder in the Premier League. Consultation is at the heart of the Premier League and Shareholder meetings are the ultimate decision-making forum for Premier League policy and are held at regular intervals during the course of the season."

http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb/about/who-we-are.html

167

What it actually means, is that (in the words of Rousseau) the whole problem started when someone put four poles in the ground, spun a rope around them, proclaimed that this was his land, and everybody said okay.

168

What Formula 1 is lacking today is mystique. Lewis' latest BBC-column is a case in point. Saying the cars are oh so complex to drive (what with all the tiny buttons and engine-management) sounds defensive and PR-related (because we know he'd (1) much prefer driving a beast of a car, and (2.) doesn't want to be seen as the champion of the busdriving-era); and defending his lifestyle makes him look like a kid. To give a much-used example, would Freddy Mercury have been the legendary Freddy Mercury if he'd been on Twitter? No, he wouldn't. What Formula 1 needs is to be aloof, and mysterious, and outrageous, and the worst thing it could do is to sell itself.

In a way, F1 is a wonderfully complex example of marketing. The sport is about the things unseen as much as the seen. The parts of the Hockenheimring the spectators couldn't see (the long straights in the forest) actually were the spectacle.

169

Thank you James, for so many insights from you in the comments.

greetings

170

"CVC bought the sport from a consortium of banks in 2005 using $1 billion and $2.5 billion of debt financing. They have so far earned around four to five times their money back and this final deal will make it one of their most successful investments ever."

VCs aim is to earn X times their money in X years. So, in 10 years, if they've earned 4 to 5 times their money, then it's a good deal, but not likely to be one of their most successful. Also, they typically are out in 7 years or less. Having to carry this investment for 10+ years is atypical.

"It is debatable what state their legacy has left the sport in, however, with no clear strategy, little in the way of investment on infrastructure over the past decade and smaller teams struggling to survive while larger teams share a significant amount of the prize pot among themselves."

It's ludicrous to lay the above at the feet of silent investors. Bernie has been the man in charge, and even before CVC, Bernie wasn't investing much into the sport. His biggest outlay was the $60M he spent on his early HD effort, but of course, Bernie's spend came off the top, so it was hardly his investment alone. That money also came out of the teams' prize pool.

"as numbers decline on TV and heritage venues like Monza struggle to meet the financial requirements to host a race. Ecclestone is also known to be unhappy with the ‘product’ of F1 at the moment, blaming the introduction of hybrid turbo engines and excessive rules and regulations."

Identifying the problem and the cause is key to finding the solution. If you look at the above, why are the numbers declining? A fickle public who have ever more entertainment choices to distract them. A less fickle core audience is also declining, but why? Perhaps, it's the long-term trend of moving core races in western Europe to locales in the Middle East and Asia. But if that is the cause, then wouldn't Bernie, who's responsible for race negotiations be to blame, and wouldn't he deflect criticism by pointing to other reasons? Well, look at that, that's what he's done. The sport of F1 has had lots of rules and regulations in the past, and turbo engines and skirts and active suspension and the like, so that can't be it.

When you treat your core audience poorly by holding heritage tracks hostage, it's no wonder hardcore fans are looking for their entertainment elsewhere. When you lose a customer, it's 10x as hard to get them back.

And, Bernie doesn't care. He wants to get as much money today, and not worry about tomorrow, because honestly, how much longer is he going to be with us?

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Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

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