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Race promoters admit concern at F1's management

NEWS STORY
28/01/2019

Following its meeting in London, the Formula One Promoters Association, has expressed dissatisfaction with the sport's decision making process under Liberty Media.

The Formula One Promoters Association (FOPA) was formed in 2011, at a time F1 was seeking to introduce the hybrid formula. The circuits already hit hard by increasing hosting fees, not to mention that money from TV, trackside advertising and on-site hospitality was mostly going straight into Formula One Management's coffers, feared that the proposed new formula, and in particular the sound, would be a turn-off for spectators.

Though the sound of the hybrid formula is not the issue that it was, concern over hosting fees is, and at a time a number of events are at the end of their current contracts, the promoters have been looking for a little leeway from F1.

While Silverstone, which is currently set to host its final Grand Prix this summer, gets most of the publicity, Monza, Barcelona, Hockenheim and Mexico City are all out of contract this year.

In a brief statement issued this evening FOPA has admitted its concerns, believing that:

"It is not in the long term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting;

There is a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation;

New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events although the association is encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective venues.

As we enter a new season of the sport that we have promoted for many decades, the Promoters seek a more collaborative approach to the development of the championship and the opportunity to offer their experience and expertise in a spirit of partnership with Formula 1 and the FIA."

While the promoters understand the difficulty that Liberty is having in agreeing a new Concorde Agreement with the teams, they are understandably unwilling to commit to new contracts themselves for races without a guarantee that FOM can provide a grid with top teams, as current contracts only specify 'a minimum of 16 cars'.

The meeting which was attended by 16 of the current 21 race promoters saw the assembled promoters admit concern at losing small, but significant, commercial rights that eat even further into their revenue.

Also serious concern was expressed about the intention to increasingly move broadcasting of F1 from free-on-air to pay per view, which will increase FOM revenues but significantly reduce the exposure of F1 racing to the greater public.

At a time the Philippines looks set to join Vietnam as a new addition to the calendar, the current promoters are concerned that newcomers take fans from existing events, as was the case with Mexico and Austin, and would likely be the case if Miami ever hosts a race.

On the subject of new races, the current promoters admit unease with the fact that FOM is now seemingly willing to discuss a different type of commercial arrangement - such as the revenue sharing deal offered to Miami - as opposed to the standard fixed fee.

The promoters are also unhappy with the way in which FOM currently takes decisions without consulting them, decisions which impact them directly, such as moving the start times last year.

There was even unease expressed over the axing of grid girls, which the promoters feel should have been discussed beforehand as in some cases there were long-standing commercial arrangements in place with sponsors.

As one promoter told Pitpass, "the natives are restless", Stuart Pringle, boss of Silverstone and chairman of FOPA, told the Daily Mail: "Everyone is disgruntled. Liberty's ideas are disjointed.

"We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto," he added, "but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now."

While unconfirmed reports suggest that Liberty has rejected the latest offer from Silverstone in terms of its hosting fee, Pringle said: "Miami are seemingly getting a free deal. That has not gone down well with anyone, not least with the guys at Austin, Texas, who are working hard to make their race pay. If this continues, Formula One will be racing on second-rate circuits, if any at all."

Another promoter described F1's current management as: "The blind leading the partially sighted."

Ouch!

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Mark365, 31/01/2019 11:18

"How on earth is Liberity Media going to sort out the special payment system set up by Bernie?"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Editor, 31/01/2019 8:45

"@ Chris Roper

Bernie isn't the promoter of the Brazilian GP, he merely lives there - or spends much of his time there.

The promoter is Tamas Rohonyi."

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3. Posted by Chris Roper, 31/01/2019 8:38

"Isn't Bernie Ecclestone the promoter of the Brazilian GP now? if so I bet he is biding his time, allowing the show of discontent to create chaos, before stepping in and taking control.
If that happens Liberty will not know what hit them -

Unless Bernie's token FoM Board Membership has effectively tied his hands behind his back in which case Liberty may not be as dumb as they appear.


"

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4. Posted by Mark365, 30/01/2019 19:34

"I find it flabbergasting that Formula One is in the state it’s in and how other race series around the world have moved forward seamlessly. There was a time not too long ago when F1 was described as the pinnacle of motor sport and provided direction for other race series to follow. I think since the introduction of the hybrid ere, F1 has lost its identity. "

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by doppelganger, 30/01/2019 10:21

"16 races - that's a sensible number for a season. With the exception (IMO) of Azerbaijan, those 16 are proper tracks. Breakaway series anyone? We can only dream....."

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6. Posted by Uffen, 29/01/2019 19:07

"All of this, and more, has been festering for many years. It is bubbling to the surface now because there are inexperienced, maybe even naive, new owners. So, the various factions are smelling blood and making their displeasure known.
They are largely correct in my opinion, as Bernie's deals were so out of balance with reality. "

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7. Posted by Max Noble, 29/01/2019 13:47

"Thank you BBC...

The races represented by F1PA are: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, UK and the USA.
"

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8. Posted by Max Noble, 29/01/2019 13:39

"16 out of 21 is 76%... a show of unity that the British government could not muster righ now, if ever!

Blaming Bernie is as logical as me finding the previous owner of my neighbour’s house and complaining about the noise the new owner makes... and I’m sure you’d sell your house for thousands less to some one who “looked the right type of owner” rather than the highest bidder. Using that logic Ferrari should have been sending me a new car each January for one dollar for years now... :-)

Liberty paid top dollar for the train set and appear to be unable to operate it. 100% their own fault...
"

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

9. Posted by Stitch431, 29/01/2019 11:48

"To Liberty Media. Just to show you what it is we, as fans want to see. Close racing, slipstreaming, good fights on track. It is a petty that the series did not make it any further, but this A1 race shows that, under normal weather circumstances, even the last car on the grid could take the win: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pn07RrwNkxY#action=share"

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10. Posted by YuppieScum, 29/01/2019 11:44

"@imejl99 "16 of 21, so no apparent unity?"

Well, Monaco is not going to rock the boat - they get a spectacularly good deal, and will continue to do so no matter what.

Singapore, Shanghai and Sochi are all effectively government-run as promotional vehicles (sorry) for the host country. In fact, Monaco also falls into that category.

So, I'm not sure who the fifth opt-out of FOPA would be, but I expect some sort of self-interest to be the reason why.


"

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11. Posted by FQITW, 29/01/2019 11:32

"Very very interesting….

Throw this article in with the Russian promoters criticism and this could signal the beginning of the revolution which F1 has been heading for for some time now and one that F1 needs.

What with all that is bubbling under with the Teams and the looming Concord agreement discussions it looks like Liberty had better hang on to their hat.
There’s a storm coming and it’s heading straight for them…
"

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12. Posted by imejl99, 29/01/2019 9:53

"@Editor

I asume we could agree the modern F1 is Bernie`s legacy, standing on the shoulders of Enzo, early Merc and British independent teams?

Thru commenting over the articles, I also assume we could agree Bernie`s decades long balancing act is admirable, and close to a miracle :)

Your comment "he had a duty to get the best price" kind of make my point - leave it in the good hands or just take as much $ as you can? Selling to the “blind leading the partially sighted” is precisely why I wrote that I still hold Bernie accountable.

If we choose to take the "the best price" stance, then owner can do whatever he wants with his business, competent or not, to our liking or not, with or without Silverstone."

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13. Posted by Editor, 29/01/2019 8:33

"@ imejl99

How is Bernie accountable… he was selling on behalf of its then owners CVC… he had a duty to get the best price – and then CVC had to agree.

Furthermore, Liberty Media – which borrowed much of the money used to make the purchase – then proceeded to say how bad everything was about the sport and immediately began making changes. If it was that bad, and needed such changes, why buy it in the first place.

The “blind leading the partially sighted” comment in our piece is bang on, because, other than Ross Brawn, none of these people has any experience of the sport and would not listen to those that do, inside bringing in an army of new people who clearly know even less… hence the lack of sponsors, new races or firming up existing events.

The latest offer from Silverstone was rejected by Liberty.
Enter your comment here@"

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14. Posted by imejl99, 29/01/2019 8:25

"16 of 21, so no apparent unity? F1 is being pulled apart from all sides, anyone there to Ctrl+Alt+Del? The new Concorde was a great opportunity, bit it seems it is negotiated by a headless chicken. Or just go and ask DORNA for help?

I still hold Bernie accountable, as it seems he didn`t think twice to whom he was selling."

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15. Posted by TokyoAussie, 29/01/2019 3:28

"Why even bother to hold a meeting if they don't decide to act? They could force change in F1 if only they acted as a unit, and not like some knitting club."

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