More F1 races per season possible: Liberty Media CEO

BARCELONA • Liberty Media is looking to expand the number of Formula One races, hoping to cash in on the glamorous appeal of its newly-acquired asset, chief executive Greg Maffei said on Wednesday.

F1 has a record-equalling 21 races this season and teams have historically been reluctant to go beyond that number, but Maffei told investors at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecoms conference that there is room for more.

"There is a general line of interest if you increase the number of races to a point. The FIA (the International Automobile Federation, which governs the sport) makes more money, the teams make more money, we make more money," he said.

F1 faces a major shake-up after Liberty Media agreed to take control of the cash-generating sport in September. It has acquired an initial 18.7 per cent stake from controlling shareholder CVC Capital Partners and plans to complete a cash and shares deal by the first quarter of next year.

The deal, which has an enterprise value of US$8 billion (S$11 billion), is expected to lead to a new push to develop the American market, and Maffei believes that the racing calendar can still be expanded.

"Obviously there is a limit on how much you can do, but I think we can expect to grow the amount of races to a mild degree," he said.

Maffei added that there were opportunities to expand in Latin America, Asia and the US.

"I particularly like the idea of a night race in Las Vegas," the 56-year-old said.

Bernie Ecclestone, F1's commercial supremo who has remained at the helm after the takeover, appeared to pour cold water recently on the immediate prospect of adding races in the United States.

The 86-year-old Briton has been talking to would-be promoters of a Las Vegas race for several months without any sign of progress.

The future of South America's only grand prix in Brazil is also uncertain owing to the country's economic crisis.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'More F1 races per season possible: Liberty Media CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe