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Maffei disputes early decision on post-2020 rules needed

NEWS STORY
06/03/2018

As testing for this season gets underway, Red Bull boss Christian Horner and his Haas counterpart, Guenther Steiner, have called on the sport's powers-that-be to announces its plan for F1 post-2020 as soon as possible in order to end the uncertainty and also cause those teams already threatening to quit the sport to put up or shut up.

Other than new engine rules, which have already been rejected by Ferrari and Mercedes, there is the much more thorny issue of prize money with Liberty seeking to make the share-out more even. Along with doing away with the bonuses paid to certain teams, a budget cap would also go some way to levelling the field not only in terms of revenue but competitiveness, according to Liberty.

Horner has urged Liberty to announce its intentions sooner rather than later, this leaving Ferrari and Mercedes a clear choice.

"They are going to have to come up with a set of rules and say, 'That's what Formula 1 is, sign up or not'," he told Racer magazine, "and it's each team's choice to decide if they want to be in the game or not."

"I think what we all are expecting from Liberty is to give us an idea of what they want to do in 2021, as soon as possible," Guenther Steiner told ESPN, "that's what everybody... whatever it is and I am not suggesting 'it should be this', I don't want to get into that one, but if you leave everything like it is, we need to know because then everyone, and I think not only us, but the other ones that say, let us know about the engine, let us know about the engine cap, let us know about revenue distribution because we need to know so everyone can make their decisions on where they want to be in 2021."

Asked if he feels it is essential Haas knows the plans for F1 post-2020 by the end of this year, the Italian said: "Absolutely, because if you have a business you need to know what the market looks like and it's the same for us.

"We've got a team, but don't know how it's going to be in 2021," he continued. "If somebody wants to change the rules dramatically you never know if you want to be part of it or not. We just need to know what is happening so we can decide or Mr Haas can decide what to do."

However, speaking yesterday, Liberty boss Greg Maffei suggested that there is no need for a decision by the end of this year.

"It doesn't really have to get fixed until 2020," he said at the Deutsche Bank Media, Telecom & Business Services Conference. "Everybody would like it, and there is a lead time where you need to have some of this fixed, but as we sit here in early 2018 there is not a hard deadline yet that gets everybody there.

"There is a lot of people who want to get there sooner," he continued, "and there are other people who see it as perhaps in their interest to play out the old hand.

"There are several teams which have stated publicly Liberty should put the terms on the table, we should get signed up and we should stare down the other guys who don't want to sign up," he continued, clearly referring to Horner's comments. "We have tried to take a tack more of let's see if we can get everybody in the boat and row together rather than draw a hard line. I think that is Chase's demeanour, that is Chase's general operating procedure but I totally agree. You'd first like to see if you can come up with a compromise that works for all ten teams, even though the ten teams don't necessarily have similar interests on every level.

Worryingly, when asked specifically about the engine rules post-2020, which surely require as much notice as possible, he said: "It depends who you ask. And perhaps the people who like the old spec have an advantage in waiting for the spec to be later rather than earlier, right?"

Referring to the proposed budget cap and prize money allocation, he said: "We are trying to build more balance by things like trying to build cost caps in, trying to level some of the payments out so they are not so favourable to the winners, we want to create the NFL perspective where on any given Sunday somebody can win.

"There is some tension around that and that is probably noisier than we thought it would be," he continued, clearly referring to the ongoing spats between the teams via the media, "and there will be more as we go through the period when we move up to renewing the Concorde Agreement in 2020 and looking for a new or different relationship going forward.

"Most of us are used to conducting business like that in private," he added. "But anything around F1 gets blared out across the headlines of the world, whether you like it or not."

Following a year which saw revenue down 8.7m ($12m) to 1.3bn ($1.8bn), a drop partly attributable to the loss of sponsors Allianz and UBS, he addressed the issues of new sponsors for the sport.

"2018 is a year where we have a transition," he said. "We have added one race but we have lost a couple. We have probably made some movement on sponsorship but there is more to come.

"We know there are some inflexions on broadcasting rights that will go higher in '19 because of existing contracts. We know that there are categories of sponsorship that are likely to get filled out, that didn't exist, that will not all be completed in '18. We don't have an oil and gas sponsor, we don't have a technology sponsor, we don't have a soft drinks sponsor, we don't have a hard spirits sponsor, we don't have a hospitality sponsor, we don't have a financial services sponsor. A long list of people you would like and you would think we should be able to fill out. Some if not all but they won't all get done in '18 to the degree we would like...

"I think there's a positive trend in '19 I don't think it's a direct upwards hockey stick but I think this will build over time and we remain very bullish on the asset we bought and where we are going with it.

"There are surely also new entrants like digital players who I expect over the next several years will become bidders for our rights," he added. "They will be more aggressive over time."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by FQITW, 06/03/2018 19:39

"Talking about an F1 car package mentioned below, has anyone noticed how good looking and uncluttered the 2018 USAF sponsored Indy car of Conor Daly looks?
That should be what we see when we watch a GP not these latest contraptions with bits glued on everywhere.
The problem with F1 nowadays is that there is so much 'wrong' with it that you don't know where to start to even attempt a fix.
"

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2. Posted by Canuck, 06/03/2018 15:04

"I really don't understand the role of FOM (Liberty) in defining the specs or rules around the Power Unit. Has the FIA relinquished this role? Is the FIA not the one who set the rules about the whole F1 car package from tire size to what materials can be used in the ICE components? And if the FIA hopes to attract independent PU manufacturing, then 3 yrs lead time is not too much. Remember Merc worked on the current V6 Turbo for at least 3 yrs before its introduction. And 1 more question - Why is the FIA paying Jean Todd - he does not seem to be doing much, he isn't even a good spectator."

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