The Formula 1 world may be changing with 19% now owned by Liberty Media, the possibility of F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone not fitting into Liberty’s future plans, the re-shuffling of management, the EU’s investigation over anti-competition concerns on the buyout, the FIA’ role and potential gain from the buyout, the possible changes to distribution of the sport to online or unbundled services and finally, the gaps potentially left by Mexico, Canada and Germany on the F1 calendar.
F1 boss Ecclestone told German publication Auto Motor und Sport:
“We do our best to keep Canada on the calendar. In Brazil we try the same, even if it is difficult. Hockenheim, we can not subsidize the race in Germany if we do not do the same with other races in Europe.”
It now seems that Singapore may be bowing out after the 2017 race when their contract expires and perhaps even some of the manufacturers could leave as well:
“It could happen to us that Mercedes and Ferrari run away,” said Ecclestone. “But honestly, if the races get better, this may not be such a terrible vision.
“We have to expect the manufacturers to leave us anyway. Mercedes will retire on the day when it suits them and it’s something we had before – look at Honda, BMW and Toyota. They go when Formula 1 has done the job for them. There is no gratitude.
“It is the same with the organisers. Look at what we have done for Singapore. Yes, the Grand Prix has cost Singapore a lot of money, but we’ve also given them a lot of money.
“Singapore was suddenly more than just an airport to fly to or from somewhere. Now they believe they have reached their goal and they do not want a grand prix anymore.”
Keep in mind that Ecclestone is in an interesting position and the new owners could possibly part ways with the venerable F1 leader once they have controlling interest and the deal is given the green light. Mr. E makes that clear in the interview. He may be painting one of his pictures of a bleak future to stir things up and position himself in the long term. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to this sport.
If that weren’t interesting enough, it also seems that the BRDC could be getting close to selling the indebted Silverstone circuit to a group propped up by Russian investment capital. A report at the Telegraph said:
“One BRDC member, who is a senior figure in the automotive industry, said he has “been told that the bid is being fronted by former Silverstone chairman Neil England with Russian money. There are a group of members now that are absolutely up in arms and are planning to put a note to the board saying “If this is the case, and this is what you are honestly proposing in the face of a proper offer from Lawrence Tomlinson, then quite frankly we are going to ask for an EGM [Extraordinary General Meeting].’ ”
Now this is interesting given that the owners experienced combined net losses of £55.2m over the five years to 2016. The Russian-fueled buyout could finally find a buyer after Jaguar Land-Rover (JLR) and the tycoon Lawrence Tomlinson backed out of their negotiations to purchase the circuit.