Race promoters admit concern at F1's management


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."


Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

Published: 28/01/2019
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