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Formula One: Liberty takeover sets teams' pulses racing

McLaren's Jenson Button losing control of his car after clipping the wall at Turn 14 and puncturing his rear left tyre during qualifying. He was forced to stop by Turn 16 and will start in 13th place after failing to reach Q3.
McLaren's Jenson Button losing control of his car after clipping the wall at Turn 14 and puncturing his rear left tyre during qualifying. He was forced to stop by Turn 16 and will start in 13th place after failing to reach Q3.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Far left: Fans cheering as Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton approaches Turn 9 during qualifying, as seen from Swissotel The Stamford. Left: The contrast in mood is clear between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg, waving to the media and fans af
Far left: Fans cheering as Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton approaches Turn 9 during qualifying, as seen from Swissotel The Stamford.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Far left: Fans cheering as Mercedes' world champion Lewis Hamilton approaches Turn 9 during qualifying, as seen from Swissotel The Stamford. Left: The contrast in mood is clear between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg, waving to the media and fans af
The contrast in mood is clear between Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg, waving to the media and fans after qualifying top, and Hamilton, who will start third.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Various teams are keen to be shareholders in the sport, hoping they can play a part in its future

In a show of solidarity, Formula One (F1) team bosses welcomed Liberty Media's takeover of the sport and envisaged themselves as shareholders with a say in shaping F1's future.

The Singapore Grand Prix is the first race to be held since news broke of the American conglomerate buying the business over from F1's parent company CVC Capital in a deal valued at US$8 billion (S$10.9 billion) last Wednesday.

And Liberty revealed last week that several teams had expressed an interest in having a stake in the burgeoning business.

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn, for one, is keen.

She said: "It's an interesting idea. It can make sense to have all teams actually being given this opportunity and be represented as well.

COLLECTIVE EFFORT

The idea sounds good. If you are able to align all major stakeholders with a long-term vision and you make the teams shareholders, there are many problems you could solve.

'' TOTO WOLFF, Mercedes executive director, on how it will be beneficial for F1 teams to have a say in the running of the sport.


STILL EARLY DAYS

It's only one week (since) this thing has happened, so I think it's an early stage to make any judgment or provision.

'' MAURIZIO ARRIVABENE, Ferrari team principal, who is cautious about the Liberty Media takeover.


CASH IS KEY

More money for the teams, lower prices and bigger distribution of cash for all.

'' CHRISTIAN HORNER, Red Bull team principal, on what he hopes the takeover will bring to the F1 teams.

 
 
 
 
 

"At the end of the day, it depends on what you get and what the price is."

Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff added: "The idea sounds good. If you are able to align all major stakeholders with a long-term vision and you make the teams shareholders, there are many problems you could solve but obviously, this is a commercial and financial decision and the devil lies in the detail."

It appears to be the best of all possible worlds for F1 teams, should they be invited to invest together with Liberty.

Teams who claim that the business of the sport was conducted without them in the past will now have the opportunity to reap the rewards of a business that has grown hugely.

For instance, compare earnings of US$341 million in 1999 to US$1.8 billion last year.

Still, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene feels that it is still early days and the Italian is taking a keen interest in evaluating exactly how the takeover pans out.

He noted: "It's only one week (since) this thing has happened, so I think it's an early stage to make any judgment or provision.

"Normally what you do when you buy something, you are listening, learning, sharing and acting. So I think all these phases, they are going to happen and they (need enough) time to make sure that the sport is growing."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner cautioned that the new owners should not ignore the combined voice of the teams.

He said: "Teams are key stakeholders in Formula One; without the teams there is no Formula One.

"To keep it as a minority shareholding for the teams would be the right thing because obviously anything beyond that we are never going to agree on but it does make sense for the teams to be a participant in the shareholding."

Horner added that on the top of his wish list for Liberty will be "more money for the teams, lower prices and bigger distribution of cash for all".

Kaltenborn added: "I do also hope that they (Liberty) see that the sport has to be looked at from the inside and that they will take steps to ensure a certain competitive parity. That for us is equally as important as looking towards the outside, how the product is going to be promoted."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Liberty takeover sets teams' pulses racing'. Print Edition | Subscribe