F1 promoters upbeat after raising concerns with Liberty

LONDON • The race promoters in Formula One believe their criticism of the sport's owner, Liberty Media, has proved to be worthwhile and will expect the company to cooperate closely with them in future.

Liberty met the Formula One Promoters' Association (Fopa) on Tuesday after the organisation had raised serious concerns about the way the sport was being run.

Stuart Pringle, the managing director of the Silverstone circuit and chairman of Fopa, was largely positive after the meeting.

"There is every indication the message has been received," he told the BBC.

"We were frustrated that we felt we had no option but to take this sort of action. But actually we have had a very positive day.

"We believe our concerns will be looked at and we as a group of promoters do recognise that ultimately we are all striving for the same thing - a healthy sport.

"We want to work in a meaningful way to achieve that so we will work collaboratively with them going forward."

Fopa represents 16 of the current 21 grands prix, including the Singapore night race, on the F1 calendar and issued a statement taking the sport's owner to task after a meeting on Monday.

Following the Tuesday meeting, a Singapore GP spokesman said: "Singapore GP had attended the Fopa meeting on Monday, and a joint release was sent out from all members present.

"The meeting with Liberty Media this morning was very productive and Singapore GP was encouraged with the plans Liberty shared."

Liberty bought F1 in 2017 and has since been trying to develop the sport but has yet to make any statement on the meeting with Fopa.

Fopa raised three major concerns:

• It was detrimental to the sport for fans to lose free access to content and broadcasting, particularly in the UK where only the British Grand Prix is set to be shown on free-to-air television.

• There was a "lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation".

• Promoters pay huge fees to host races, with Silverstone expected to pay approximately £20 million (S$35.4 million) for this year's British Grand Prix. The fees are a major source of income for F1 but increasingly promoters have maintained they were unable to meet them.

F1 has been attempting to agree a new race in Miami but is understood to be trying to use a profit-sharing model rather than a hosting fee, to which Fopa also objected.

"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," said the statement.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 31, 2019, with the headline 'F1 promoters upbeat after raising concerns with Liberty'. Print Edition | Subscribe