Liberty boss surprised by 'discord' with F1 teams

Chase Carey, Formula 1 CEO/Liberty Media
© XPB 

Liberty Media boss Greg Maffei has admitted he's surprised that Formula 1's new owners are in such public disagreement with teams so soon after taking charge.

Liberty unveiled its blueprint for the post-2020 direction of the sport last autumn. They came under immediate fire from Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne. The team has publicly threatened to pull out of F1 if the plans aren't modified.

"Most of us are used to conducting business like that in private'" said Maffei, Liberty Media's president and CEO in the United States.

"It's a little bit of a surprise how noisy all that is," he admitted. ""Anything around Formula 1 gets blared out across the headlines of the world, whether you like it or not.

"It's probably noisier yet than we thought it would be. And there will be more as we go through the period when we move up to renewing the Concorde Agreement for 2020."

Maffei explained that the reason Liberty's proposals are ruffling the feathers of top teams is as commitment to levelling the competitive playing field.

"You've seen some of the public discord where we're trying to build more balance," he said. "Things like trying to build cost caps in. Trying to level the payments out so they're not so favourable to the winners.

"We want to create the NFL perspective, where on any given Sunday somebody can win," he added. "There's some tension around that."

Maffei said that Liberty's preferred approach was more collaborative than former Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone's confrontational style.

"We've tried to take a tack more of 'Let's see if we can get everybody in the boat and row together, rather than draw a hard line'," he said.

But a number of leading Formula 1 teams seem to prefer the old way of doing business.

"There are several teams who have been saying publicly that Liberty should put the terms on the table," he said. "And we should stare down the other guys who don't want to sign up."

Maffei explained that Ecclestone's successor Chase Carey wasn't one for laying down the law in that way.

"He'd first like to see if he can come up with a compromise that works for all the 10 teams," said Maffei. "Even though the 10 teams don't necessarily have similar interests on every level.

"I think that's his demeanour. That's Chase's general operating procedure. But I totally agree."

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