F1 not interested in divide and conquer tactics for next Concorde

Grand Prix racing’s key stakeholders have begun discussions to frame the next Concorde Agreement, the document by which F1 is run, that is set to cover the period 2026 to 2030.

History has shown that the Concorde discussions are often extremely fraught, as teams vie for greater commercial rights income from the promoter as well as over other teams.

When Ecclestone was F1 supremo he often pitched teams against each other – knowing that the negotiating hand of the competitors was much weaker if he could pick them off as individuals rather than give them power as a group.

It was through enticing teams with extra secret bonuses to play them off each other, for example, that he helped accelerate the demise of the Formula One Teams’ Association more than a decade ago.

Greg Maffei, CEO of the Liberty Media company that owns F1, says such divide and conquer tactics will not be employed this time around – even though he expects some fraught negotiations over some aspects of the next Concorde Agreement.

Autosport has already revealed, for example, that one controversial aspect of Concordes of the past, an extra historic bonus that Ferrari gets, is to remain. However, it will be capped – something which is understood not to have delighted the Italian squad.

Speaking at an F1 in Depth event in Monaco, which was co-hosted by Autosport Business, Maffei pointed to the approach of the next Concorde Agreement discussions being a world away from how they were in the past.

“The prior regime really did put a lot of time in having the teams compete against each other,” he said. “In many cases, they enjoyed just getting an edge on each other, rather than thinking about how to grow the sport.

“We’ve tried to take really a page out of, I’d say in some ways, the NFL in the United States: compete hard on Sunday, but on Monday league first.

“We really want to grow the sport together. The teams have embraced that, and profited from that, because they’ve not only seen the growth in F1 revenues and their share of the profits in their own sponsorship, but we’ve also seen growth in the value of teams.”

Maffei went on to cite the fact that the commercial boom that F1 has enjoyed over recent years, allied to the positive impact of the cost cap, means that the health of the grid has never been as strong as it is now.

“When we got involved in late 2016, and we made our first investment close in January 2017, the bottom teams were literally worthless,” he explained.

“Manor had been sold for one pound the prior summer. And now there isn’t a team that’s worth less than a billion dollars, maybe more, and they raise money at those numbers.

“We’ve seen enormous growth in the value of the teams, just as we’ve seen growth in the value of F1. But actually, the teams’ values have probably increased more. And that was important: we needed to have a mentality of investment and mentality that these were franchises that they could really have true value. And today that’s happened.”

But equally, with the Concorde Agreement being such an important document for teams’ long-term financial security, Maffei says he is not naive enough to believe that discussions will be a walk in the park.

“There are surely issues we’re going to fight over. [And] what a surprise: they would like to make more money. I don’t begrudge them that.

“I suspect some of that, they wish, might come out of our pocket. But in general, they appreciate we’ve tried to take the long view, and we try to take the view that we should all profit together.”

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