F1 records $104m loss in Q3


F1 has recorded a $104m (78.6m) loss for the third quarter of the year as the effects of the pandemic continue to hit.

The loss, which compares to a $44m (33.2m) profit for the same quarter in 2019, follows Q2 which saw revenues drop from $620m (470m) in 2019 to just $24m (18.2m) this year.

The Q2 hit was understandable due to the fact that the pandemic meant there was no racing, and no racing means little or no income.

In July however, which kicked-off Q3, the season finally got underway with back-to-back races in Austria.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the 2020 season was postponed until early July, with certain races cancelled and others rescheduled to later dates," state the press release accompanying the figures from Liberty Media. "The 2020 revised calendar consists of 17 events beginning July 5th and ending December 13th. There were ten races held in the third quarter of 2020 compared to seven races in the third quarter of 2019. Fans were only in attendance in reduced numbers at one race in the third quarter, and similar limited capacity crowds have been present at two subsequent races. Currently, F1 does not expect to have fans at any of the remaining 2020 races. Results in the third quarter of 2020 were impacted by the absence of fans, the location of races as well as the timing of the revised race calendar and pro rata recognition of certain revenue streams, with 10/17 races taking place in the third quarter of 2020 compared to 7/21 in the third quarter of 2019.

"Primary F1 revenue is comprised of (i) race promotion fees, (ii) broadcasting fees and (iii) advertising & sponsorship fees. Primary F1 revenue decreased mainly due to the limited race promotion revenue received since fans were prohibited at all but one race during the third quarter. This was partially offset by growth in broadcasting and advertising & sponsorship fees due to the impact of higher proportionate recognition of season-based income with three additional races during the current period, as well as the impact of recognizing revenue over fewer races in 2020. However, both broadcasting and advertising & sponsorship revenues were lower than originally contracted. The altered schedule triggered lower broadcasting fees pursuant to the contractual terms within certain broadcasting agreements and also led to other one-time changes as certain broadcasting fees were renegotiated for the current year. Additionally, Formula 1 has been prevented from delivering all elements of a typical sponsorship offering due to the cancellation of races to which contracted sponsorship inventory specifically related and the limited activities at the races, including hospitality, leading to one-time changes in sponsorship contracts.

"Other F1 revenue decreased in the third quarter due to the non-operation of the Paddock Club and lower freight revenue, partially offset by increased revenue from the F2 and F3 support series as there were three additional races in the current period compared to the prior year.

"Operating loss increased and adjusted OIBDA decreased in the third quarter. Team payments increased partially due to one-time fees paid to teams upon signing the new Concorde Agreement as well as the pro rata recognition of prize fund payments across the race season. Other cost of F1 revenue is largely variable in nature and mostly relates directly to revenue opportunities. These costs increased in the third quarter due to the increase in number of races compared to the prior year, partially offset by lower hospitality and lower freight costs, as only one flyaway race took place in the current period. Selling, general and administrative expense decreased due to favorable foreign exchange rates and lower discretionary marketing expense.

"The Liberty SiriusXM Group holds an approximate 2.2% intergroup interest (5.3 million notional shares) in the Formula One Group as of October 31, 2020. These shares are not included in the outstanding share count of Formula One Group in Liberty Media's most recent Form 10-Q. Assuming the issuance of the shares underlying this intergroup interest, the Formula One Group outstanding share count as of October 31, 2020 would have been 237 million.

"The businesses and assets attributed to the Formula One Group consist of Liberty Media's subsidiary F1 and other minority investments, including AT&T and an inter-group interest in the Braves Group."

It's believed that as opposed to receiving the (on average) $30m it received last season, F1 is currently paying around $5m per event to the various promoters in order to put the schedule together. The only exceptions to this understood to include the events in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi which continue to pay a hosting fee.

Consequently, based on 2019 figures, when there were 21 events, the sport has lost out on around $510m (385m) not to mention an anticipated $100m (75.5m) in corporate hospitality.

With the cost of hosting the 13 or so races that aren't paying a fee this year, this comes to around $65m, consequently F1's expenses are up by $65m and its revenue down by around $610m with no clear sign of when (or if) things will improve.

The newly-announced event in Saudi Arabia should pump some much needed cash into the coffers, but again that is dependent on the event going ahead.

Though the accounts reveal that the teams were paid $441m (333m) in Q3 - up on the $335 (253m) paid out in 2019 - the very fact that the teams are now openly backing the call for a driver salary cap is proof that they are expecting difficult times ahead.

With this in mind, it is worth making clear - once again - that despite the positive messages coming out of the paddock in terms of the new Concorde Agreement, there is a one-year break clause, which, as we have said before, surely defeats the whole object.

Fact is, F1 is no longer the same business that F1 bought in early 2017, which is no doubt why there is talk of Liberty Media looking for a prospective buyer.

Indeed, there's talk that one interested party is already buoyed by its addition to the F1 schedule, and we don't mean the Netherlands or Vietnam.

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Published: 06/11/2020
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