F1 prize money drops by 35m in 2017


Figures released by Liberty Media yesterday revel that the prize money paid to the ten teams that contested the world championship in 2017, the sport's first year under its new ownership, fell by 35m ($47m) to 666m ($919m), a drop of around 5%.

Liberty bought the sport in January last year in a deal worth 3.3bn ($4.6bn), and by the end of the year revenue was down 8.7m ($12m) to 1.3bn ($1.8bn), the biggest fall of the past decade.

Driving this were a number of factors, not least the loss of sponsors such as Allianz and UBS along with reduced race hosting fees for Brazil.

Then there was the controversial re-branding of the sport, the establishment of a new London HQ which also meant doubling the headcount and Ross Brawn's in-house F1 team charged with reshaping the rules in order to produce a more level playing field and reduce costs.

Indeed, the levelling of the playing field will be reflected in a reorganisation of the way the prize money is divided, with, among other things, the bonuses paid to certain teams set to be scrapped.

Another expense, according to Forbes, is "primarily due to spend on fan engagement, filming in Ultra High-Definition and higher freight costs".

Another admission from Liberty that is sure to cause interest among the teams, is that "additionally, stock-based compensation increased related to awards granted to members of F1 management".

Far from happy with the proposed engine rules for 2021, not to mention the (as yet unannounced) plans for the redistribution of the prize pot and a budget cap, Ferrari has threatened to turn its back on F1 and head to a breakaway series. News of a fall in the 2017 prize money will do little to allay the Maranello outfit's fears.

While some poo-poo the idea of Ferrari leaving F1 - the team has history after all - Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes the Italian outfit isn't bluffing while admitting his own fears for the future of the sport.

"If I were Liberty Media's new Formula 1 promoter, I would not continue provoking Marchionne with unacceptable suggestions or demands or nonsensical changes," he told Germany's Welt am Sonntag.

Asked to explain, the Austrian continued: "Bringing rules or show elements into the game and turning F1 into a cheap shopping channel.

"Formula 1 must remain in its basic structures what it was and what it is," he added. "We have to improve them and face the new media environment. But we need evolution, not naive revolution."

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Published: 02/03/2018
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