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Saudis eyeing bid for F1?

NEWS STORY
15/09/2021

Writing for Switzerland's Blick, veteran journalist, Roger Benoit claims that Saudi Arabia is mulling purchasing Formula One from Liberty Media.

"The Americans seem to have lost interest in their multibillion-dollar toy," he writes, according to F1i.com. "Ironically, the Saudis are now at the door with their suitcases for a takeover from the Americans."

In fact, Liberty hasn't "lost interest", it is both disillusioned by F1, realising that it isn't the sport it thought it was, and struggling to make it financially viable.

Pitpass has heard talk of the Saudis making an approach for some time, and follows talk of a Grand Prix in Saudi Arabia, a move which as recently as 2018, Ross Brawn had denied would ever happen due to the country's human rights record.

Liberty's struggle to get on top of F1, of course, hasn't been helped by COVID, with the sport taking a major financial hit last year and continuing to do so.

Indeed, as we await official confirmation of a race in Qatar this season, it is the events in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia that are keeping the sport going financially.

Such is the situation, as COVID continues to compromise the schedule, unconfirmed reports suggest that F1 has had to take on a number of loans including loans against future sponsor income.

However, we understand that even before COVID, Liberty was aware that it had bitten off more than it could chew and was looking for potential buyers.

Benoit is a long-time friend of former supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, but it is doubtful that the 90-year-old is eyeing a return to his former job.

Fact is, should the Saudi move go ahead, the sport has moved on since Ecclestone's departure in 2017, and while there is still much that needs fixing, other aspects of the sport have improved since Liberty arrived on the scene.

Indeed, Ecclestone's return would cause tremors at F1 Towers in London, for since Liberty bought the sport its headcount has increased dramatically as bosses focussed on areas the former supremo had never considered important, streaming, social media etc.

Whether the Saudi bid goes ahead or not remains to be seen. We understand that there is somewhat of a deadlock between the parties but if that is cleared a deal could happen in a matter of weeks.

It is believed to have been in the planning stages for around six months and is backed by a number of Saudi investors, not just the F1 sponsor Aramco as Blick reported. Although Ecclestone is at the helm, the deal is supported by several of his former executives who have parted ways with Liberty since it bought F1.

This is definitely one to watch, and potentially as explosive and entertaining as the Hamilton/Verstappen show.

Certainly, the possibility of Ecclestone arriving back on the scene will be causing a few high-profile inhabitants of Planet Paddock some sleepless nights.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kdxrider, 17/09/2021 18:53

"But then it could just be they have a p!ss pile of money so buying it just because they can ----- "

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

2. Posted by kenji, 17/09/2021 12:33

"@ Spindoctor Thanks for your response. What I'm saying is that if Hamilton doesn't put up vis a vis Khashoggi then he's being selective possibly because of the fact that that poor guy was not black. I guess that by now you've also caught up with the media regarding Hamilton's reverse racism by publicising his young black designers table at the Met Gala. Inclusivity should not be race based. Talent should be the dominating factor. Anyway it will all be academic as the next race looms large. If you get time you should log into 'Crashalong' if you haven't already done so. The recreation of the crash takes a different direction when viewed within their framework. Your take would be interesting especially when seeing how far Hamilton went off the racing line into turn one!!!"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 17/09/2021 12:07

"@kenji
I'm sure you have criticised the Saudis many transgressions against Human Rights, but, as you say: "once again you have missed the point"
I'll bet Lewis Hamilton is as disgusted by what happened to Mr Kashoggi as are all other civilised people.

There are a multiplicity of abhorrent regimes and evil doers in the world - some of which host Formula 1 Races. No one person could possibly campaign about all of them. Lewis Hamilton, as you've probably noticed, is Black & has personally experienced discrimination. He has consequently chosen to concentrate his efforts on campaigning on to improve the lot of other less fortunate people of colour in places where he is in a position to do something practical about it. I'll draw your attention to the Hamilton Foundation &c.

Hamilton's "failure", as you see it, to publicise Kashoggi's fate & Saudi's involvement in it is not "hypocrisy" simply a reflection of his personal priorities.


"

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4. Posted by kenji, 17/09/2021 1:42

"@ Spindoctor...once again you have missed the point entirely. I have posted my comments referring to the abhorrent murder and subsequent questionable disposal of the Saudi journalist's remains. That is on the record. My point was that unless Hamilton [ the original T Shirt promoter ] shows the same commitment to this [Saudi inspired ] tragedy then that would expose him to be a hypocrite and a fake HR player when it comes to ethnicity. You should be aware that if you set the standard the you need to be consistent in your denials. I would respectfully suggest that you think this through and reflect on what you have said. Your vision is clouded by perceived transgressions that are not sustainable. Have a nice day."

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5. Posted by Spindoctor, 16/09/2021 16:54

"In respect of potential Saudi purchase of F1, financially it's hard to see what they stand to gain given the current state of F1's finances & general appearance of lack of direction.
It's interesting that Saudis Sovereign Wealth fund is said to be investing heavily in various renewables\alternative carbon-free energy technologies. In addition, Saudi is perfectly placed for the production\manufacture of "greener" forms of energy such as Green Hydrogen, which could be cracked using lots of readily available Solar Power. F1's switch to less eco-damaging fuel might play into this kind of adventure, and provide some kind of showcase for all this, though I'm still a bit dubious.

Should the deal go through, I'm sure we could see a severe revision of penalties for bad driving in F1, given the Saudi ruling clique's attachment to various barbaric practices, up to & including murder.

@kenji
I appreciate you simply can't resist having a pop at Hamilton, but your comment is characteristically ugly & ill-considered. As far as I'm concerned, using the murder of a journalist to attack the integrity of a Racing Driver is cheap & unnecessary



"

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6. Posted by kenji, 16/09/2021 2:40

"@ RockDoc...I would say 'No'. If the Saudis do succeed in acquiring F1 I see it as them, having a foot in both camps, that is, becoming a responsible Nation State and a colossal supplier of energy products.. They would pursue the bio sustainable fuel issue as that would prolong the life of existing fossil fuel supplies and give them an additional place in the future energy market. The need for fossil fuels and lubricants will extend a long way into the future. Don't forget also that the Saudis have been involved in developments other than energy for many years now and that they are seeking to attract both the tech/dev. $ and the tourist $. "

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7. Posted by Rock Doc, 15/09/2021 22:22

"OK so no one else seems to have joined the dots here.

Saudi Arabia is a OIL nation. At a time of renewables and the move to sustainability in F1 an oil nation wants to buy F1. F1 is a promotional tool and what better way to promote your product than have it racing around a track a top speed.

Could this mean the return of the petrol guzzling noise engines we have all been calling for over the last few years.

Think about it.

"

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8. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 15/09/2021 17:04

"Liberty Media does not get the consumer of their product."

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9. Posted by kenji, 15/09/2021 11:32

"@ C5...hahaha. I am literally gobsmacked at your revelation re my somewhat disjointed musings. I will therefore bestow upon you the hard to earn and impossible to purchase,'Kenji uptick'. "

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10. Posted by Roli, 15/09/2021 9:37

"I can only repeat the three words spoken by Maggie THatcher :

NO! NO! NO!"

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11. Posted by C5, 15/09/2021 5:36

"@Kenji - I suspect a group of porkies may have raided a Red Bull warehouse and grown wings, as I awkwardly find myself almost fully in agreement with not one, but both your latest posts. :-)"

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12. Posted by kenji, 15/09/2021 3:56

"@ Flyinglap....I don't think that anyone would be seriously put out if Liberty and their 'Americanisation' of F1 were to vanish. Looking back they've given us a 'Game Show' opening ceremony with all the trappings of a faux Las Vegas/ cheap Hollywood style of presentation! Then they took away all the delightful grid girls who were only given opportunities of well paid work. Mid West puritanism at best. They then went all ' wokie' by allowing and encouraging minority political movements to proselytise to a captive audience. Never mind the cheap and shabby sprint race podiums and medallions!!! The major problem that I see is that by allowing the Saudis to buy in may well see the F1 experience suffer the same fate as all the other Middle East nations...the threat of terrorism and other unsavoury events that play out on a daily basis across the entire area and I'm not being alarmist."

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13. Posted by kenji, 15/09/2021 3:07

"@ GWS...You seem to have missed the point of my post. I was simply highlighting the possible hypocrisy if nothing was done along the same lines as those adopted by Hamilton in the past. He may well stage a similar protest to those of the BLM movement ..I don't know but what I do know is that if he doesn't he will be shown to be a selective hypocrite, IMO. You perhaps need to also bone up on the difference between evidence and supposition. There is a mile of difference between Assange, who should not be in prison for his disclosures and the premeditated stomach churning murder that took place in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.There is plenty of evidence for that crime. As for Epstein, the evidence is only circumstantial at the best until someone fronts with more concrete details. For that little doozy look no further that the TV series 'Homeland' for a 100% identical plot!! What has all this to do withF1? Well the whole 'wokie led' protests should never have been allowed in the first place...IMO."

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14. Posted by flyinglap, 14/09/2021 21:54

"Not so long ago I commented on this esteemed website about an eventual takeover of the F1 business from Liberty Media being the only chance of saving our sport. Reading that this may actually happen in the near future, much earlier than I dared to hope, only makes me happy. And if it were not to pass now, with the Saudis, I would still be happy because there is evidence that Liberty Media would be entertaining the possibility, and therefore sooner or later a takeover may well take place. Imagine the pleasure of restructuring "F1 Towers" (starting with Ross Brawn)! They succeeded in "struggling to make financially viable" what was once a formidable money-making machine. Enough said."

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15. Posted by Great_white_shark, 14/09/2021 20:22

"Funny how people are up-in-arms about Khashoggi but you will never hear a peep from them about Assange facing bogus charges and life in prison for speaking the truth or Epstein being silenced before he could compromise anyone. The Saudis could learn from the West how to silence journalists and whistle-blowers humanely "

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