How Liberty is «playing long game» to help F1 teams make money

On Wednesday F1 announced increased revenue and profits for 2022, as well as a record overall payment of over $1.1 billion split between the 10 teams.

In the early years of Liberty’s ownership several teams were in financial trouble and came close to failing, with Force India and Williams surviving only when they found new owners.

But team values have risen dramatically during F1’s post-COVID growth over the past couple of seasons, and potential buyers are being turned away.

“One of the things that we at F1 with Liberty’s help have been trying to do is build a mentality that I’ll credit the NFL for, which is one league, that we benefit when everybody benefits,” said Maffei in a call with Wall Street analysts.

“And yes, the teams compete very hard on Sunday, but on Monday, we need to think about growing the entire ecosystem. It was critical that we have healthy teams, so that we could have a healthy league.

“It was critical that they had a prospect of making money, even the teams towards the back of the grid, so that we could have a prospect of also making money.

“They’ve seen radical increases in their value, we’ve seen pretty good increases in our value.

“But we’re here to play the long game. And it doesn’t mean we won’t have disagreements with the teams about how much of the pie is ours, and how much the pie is theirs.

“But trying to build the mentality that as you gain, we gain, and vice versa, and that we’re playing the long game here is really part of our goal.”

Greg Maffei, CEO, Liberty Media Corporation, Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1, Danny Sullivan, FIA Steward

Greg Maffei, CEO, Liberty Media Corporation, Stefano Domenicali, CEO, Formula 1, Danny Sullivan, FIA Steward

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

A new Concorde Agreement will have to be signed for 2026 and beyond and Maffei believes F1 will have a “strengthened hand” when negotiations ramp up as a reflection of its ongoing efforts to increase its own income and hence that of the teams.

“I think we will have a strengthened hand and in the next Concorde Agreement,” he said. “Not a whip hand, but a hand saying, ‘Hey, look, we’re here to grow the value, and you’re going to benefit from it.’ And we want to see your team value grow dramatically.”

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F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali pointed out that in the past, both on Liberty’s watch and under Bernie Ecclestone, struggling teams sometimes had to be bailed out with early upfront payments from F1. That is no longer necessary.

“Strong teams financially means also the strength of the entire system to invest, with also their strategy to engage more with fans and partners,” said Domenicali. “That will have an indirect effect to the growth and the strength of the business itself.

“We don’t forget that not many years ago, the teams were suffering, and we, as F1, were there to support them financially.

“That’s why we really believe that the more value we give to the teams, the more value will go back to the system, and to the entire business.”

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