Formula One: Baku F1 promoter slams 'ignorant' Liberty criticism

The promoter of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has hit back at criticism of his race by Formula One's new owners Liberty Media.
The promoter of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has hit back at criticism of his race by Formula One's new owners Liberty Media.PHOTO: AFP

BAKU • The promoter of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has hit back at "ignorant" criticism of his race by Formula One's new owners Liberty Media.

Arif Rahimov was reacting to comments made by Liberty chief executive Greg Maffei, who said last week that Baku paid a big fee but did "nothing to build the long-term brand and health of the business".

"It does upset us, obviously. Mr Maffei has been involved in F1 for less than half a year," Rahimov said on Wednesday. "We've been working on this project for three years now, so we have more experience with F1 than them. I think saying something like this is ignorant."

Last week, Maffei said that Formula One had ended up "in places like Baku" because the previous business model favoured venues that paid handsomely.

"Our job is to find partners who pay us well but also help us to build the product. It is incumbent upon us to bring best practice," he added.

Rahimov, whose race made its debut last season, said he was surprised by the comments.

"We truly believe the race was a success. The fans loved the racing action, they loved what they saw as entertainment," he said. "It was (also) a success for the drivers because it was a challenging track."

The new season starts in Australia next week. Yesterday, Williams announced that Paddy Lowe has joined the Formula One team as chief technical officer and shareholder in the group.

The Briton, who played an integral role in Mercedes winning the last three drivers' and constructors' world championships, had been on gardening leave. Mercedes replaced him with former Ferrari technical director James Allison.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2017, with the headline 'Baku F1 promoter slams 'ignorant' Liberty criticism'. Print Edition | Subscribe