Why F1’s Top Bosses Are Thinking About A “Bigger Future”


Greg Maffei: Formula One has never been healthier than all indications. Fan interest is very high. We have great on-track competition and we have helped the team. As we entered the Manor, the 11th team had just been sold at the curator for a pound. And today, I don’t think you can buy a team for less than $500 million, maybe $700 million. You can go try. But it will be difficult. What a tremendous increase in value. And in part, it’s because of the things that have been put in place to try and create more competition on the track that also improves the health of those teams. You need to have a healthy team ecosystem to make it work. And I think all of that is happening, and you’re also seeing an increase in fan interest. On TV, personally, we’ve never had a bigger show. So pretty good.

Why do F1's top bosses think about

Stefano, an important milestone in terms of increasing the value of the team is the cost cap, something that many say we have never achieved in F1.

Stefano Domenicali: Very. I think the vision that Greg has, along with Chase (Carey), that we need to respect, is the need for discontinuity from what has gone before. And discontinuity means having professionalism in a different way of doing sports business. It was a vision to make the Formula One business sustainable from a financial point of view. We can talk about the income which could be higher, but the cost is something you definitely have. So the only way to ensure that the margins are bigger is to control what you spend. So it was a very big milestone that completely changed the vision of the sport and gave the system credibility. A sustainable business means that the team can invest and grow. All elements are now secure and financially strong. We can think of a bigger future. Thinking about a bigger future means we have to respect what Formula One has become, but enter new markets that have the potential to allow us to grow; not only financially, but in terms of awareness and passion for sport. We are talking about a sport that needs to have an element of emotion; we want to focus our main attention on the track. Such a great race, ensuring that the racers, who represent for us the gems, have the opportunity to fight amongst themselves, opening up the possibility through social media to have a chance to see them. It is very important to connect with the new generation. We need to create different narratives for different types of fans. I don’t think there’s been a new inflow of sponsor money into the sport like this since tobacco advertising was banned in the mid-2000s. Almost every F1 team you talk to, they almost turn down sponsors now.

Why do F1's top bosses think about

GM: I think they, there is only so much space in the car, to put another logo. The growth in interest from people who are really tech savvy has been a big part and how it is growing interest among the tech community in Silicon Valley – look how many automakers now have tech sponsors, if not a lot of tech sponsors. That has unlocked a set, but then you also get fans who are more relaxed and appreciate maybe the stories of the racers, their personalities. Then there is the increase in our youth fan base, with one survey (Motorsport Network Global F1 Fan Survey 2021) we lowered it by four years, the average age. So that opens up a huge range of consumer products and a number of other brands that find it attractive. So we’re really very lucky to have all sorts of sponsorship interests.

elementary school: Just think about the depth of crypto. We have 10 different crypto brands. And I can tell you that the software business is exactly the same. (It’s) very healthy. This means that, for the first time, there is no need for a loan as usual in the past, to ensure the team is still alive. So they are very solid. And this is a great reward for their investment in us. And that’s the reason why we believe that the team community should be respected. Today it’s not a matter of having more teams, because we have a roster; some of them are more vocal than others, but many people and investors want to get in Formula One. But we need to protect it. So this is really another sign of a very healthy system.

Why do F1's top bosses think about

So do you have the right number of teams now with ten?

elementary school: I think so. Whoever wants to enter must be truly significant.

GM: As for the young audience, we commend Netflix for opening it up to so many people. But what’s interesting is how many of these people come in different ways. Social media has a very big role. Gaming: You can play Lando Norris and race on the same track as Lando. It was very interesting for many young fans. It didn’t exist seven years ago, it was completely unplanned. And once the sport opens, it makes it more interesting. Yes, it has an element of exclusivity, for sure. But there are elements that all fans can touch. Your other goal is to develop the sport in the United States. We saw Miami added this year. Next year, we will have our third race in the US in Las Vegas. What other areas in the future would you like to encourage?

elementary school: There are other areas of the world that would like to have Formula One. And I think one of the areas we want to develop is the Africa area because it’s a world championship. So I think we’re working really hard to make sure that this is an area where we’re going to have a Grand Prix soon. And then there is interest in the Far East. And we don’t want to lose interest of course in Europe, because we were born here. And we’re going to stay here because I hear a lot of noise, you know, that’s just not true. The beauty of today’s situation is that we have a lot of options.

One of the key strategies for the future is the shift that we will make in 2026, to 100% sustainable fuels. We will effectively showcase this technology in the world’s largest annual sporting event. And it has to be transformative.

SD: I would say so. And I think we want to be realistic. We want to see things happen firsthand. And we believe that this is an option that allows manufacturers to be credible in a dimension that is also profitable for them. With all due respect to think that electrification will hit the whole world in two years – we know that’s impossible. Therefore, also from a technical point of view, the strategic choice to continue with a hybrid engine, we believe is the right choice. And that’s the reason why we have a lot of interest from other manufacturers to join us.

GM: Sport obviously has a lot of positive attributes, we think we can be positive by going to places like Africa and expanding the audience, and expanding the interest in motorsport around the world. That’s not necessarily the place where we’re going to make the most money. But if you’re investing for the long term, we think it’s a great opportunity. Think about sustainability. In the case of the US, I know very well, that there are 250 million cars in the US, 200 million of which are running. They last an average of about 11 years plus, people buy used cars. At most, we have 15 to 17 million new cars per year. If you do the math, even if a third or a half is electric, it will be a very long time before you do anything to clean up the existing 200 million car base. The reality is that if we are to really attack carbon, finding other ways to fuel the existing 200 million cars is the right answer. I’m not saying we’re going to cure it all. But if we can contribute to that knowledge, if we can contribute with our work on sustainable fuels, I think that’s positive.

We’ve talked about Liberty Media’s five years of ownership, and you’ve said a lot about what you said you would give. What about the next five years?

GM: We benefit from the stewardship of a 72 year old company. So we thought about the long term and what to do. We have a lot of interest now. We want to maintain that growing interest more broadly. And doing things like going to Africa and doing things about sustainability is all the thinking about how we develop this 72 year old franchise for the next five years and the five years after that. There’s a huge amount of momentum now we want to take advantage of that. Not just financially, but to the extent of the sport.


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