In Brief

F1 race promoters rebel against owners Liberty Media

There are concerns over race contracts, TV coverage and F1’s long-term future

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media is “facing a rebellion” from race promoters over future plans for the motor sport.

The Daily Mail reports today that the Formula One Promoters’ Association (Fopa) is “angry” at the handling of race contracts and Reuters adds that there is growing concerns over how the sport is being run by Liberty Media.

Fopa, which represents 16 of F1’s 21 races, is set to meet with F1 bosses today in London. The group is seeking “a more collaborative approach” with Liberty Media in regards to grand prix contracts, free-to-air TV coverage and potential new races.

Deals soon to end

Five of the circuits that will host a grand prix in 2019 - Silverstone, Monza, Barcelona, Hockenheim and Mexico City - have contracts that end this year. While recently it was reported that Vietnam is set to join the calendar in 2020 and a Miami GP could also be added in the future.

The Mail says that race promoters are “furious with Liberty Media’s handling of their contracts and are ready to quit”.

Stuart Pringle, boss of Silverstone and chairman of Fopa, said: “Everyone is disgruntled. 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.”

New races

The potential new race in Miami is also causing concern for race promoters. It’s claimed that Miami is being offered a grand prix for free while Silverstone pays £25m.

Pringle added: “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.”

TV coverage

Another major topic of conversation is the lack of free-to-air television coverage of F1.

In the United Kingdom this year only the British Grand Prix will be shown live on terrestrial TV on Channel 4. Sky Sports will show every race via subscription.

In a three-point statement, Fopa said: “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.”

The 2019 F1 season starts on Sunday 17 March with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. 

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