Teams offered cash sweetener for next season

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner in the Team Principals Press Conference at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner in the Team Principals Press Conference at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. PHOTO: AFP

ABU DHABI • Commercial rights holder Liberty Media has offered Formula One teams cash advances to cushion the blow of reduced revenues caused by increased investment in the sport, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said.

US-based Liberty took over Formula One in January and has been spending on infrastructure and putting a marketing operation in place.

Horner told reporters at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that the rights holder had made "a very generous offer, to those teams that want to take it".

He said Liberty would effectively advance monies to ensure that the amount available next year to the teams is the same as this year, on an interest-free basis.

"They've offered to basically fund that bridge for those teams that wish to take it," he added, without giving more details.

Liberty said in its third-quarter results published this month that payments to the 10 teams would amount to US$273 million (S$367 million), US$43 million - or 14 per cent - less than in the same period last year.

It explained that race promotion and advertising and sponsorship revenue was down, due to one less event being held in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2016.

The current season had 20 races, while next season there will be 21 with Malaysia dropping off but France and Germany returning.

The drop in revenue payments is the first in years of steadily rising revenues under former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, whose focus was on maximising profit and returns to shareholders.

For decades, the sport has spent little on marketing, relying more on media coverage.

But Liberty has said it wants every race to be like a Super Bowl, with more fan engagement and events in cities near race tracks.

In yesterday's qualifying at the Yas Marina circuit, Valtteri Bottas claimed pole position for today's race, leading a Mercedes one-two.

The Finn, who could yet snatch second place in the standings from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, will start ahead of his team-mate, quadruple world champion Lewis Hamilton, at the front of the grid.

Vettel qualified third with Australian Daniel Ricciardo lining up alongside him on the second row of the grid for Red Bull.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline 'Teams offered cash sweetener for next season'. Print Edition | Subscribe