Maffei: Liberty's problems with F1 promoters? Blame Bernie!

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Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei believes that former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is to partly blame for F1's current difficulties with the sport's race promoters.

Liberty is in the process of negotiating contract renewals with Spain, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Mexico.

However, promoters are now driving a hard bargain, unwilling to extend their agreements at all cost and searching for better overall deals with F1's commercial right holder.

Maffei understands the fundamental reasons behind the promoters' demands, but the American executive also points an accusatory finger at Ecclestone.

"Bernie had done a very good job, arguably too good a job, and had drained the promoters," Maffei told financial analysts at a Deutsche Bank conference.

"And we got a lot of blow back, partly because we’re public now and they can see the prices, and also partly because Bernie suggested to a lot of them that they were overpaying. That didn’t help the cause.

"Exacerbating that are governments trying to pull back subsidies, in Mexico, other places – Spain. So that creates some challenges."

Formula 1 will venture into a new territory - Vietnam - next year, and a second race in the US is still in the cards as growth remains Liberty media's priority.

Maffei admitted however than an expansion of the calendar with the right blend of traditional and new races will require a delicate balancing act.

"We remain working on Miami, but there are obstacles to a lot of that," he added.

"We’ve looked at other alternatives in the US, including Las Vegas. We’ve looked at other alternatives in Africa. We’re trying to solidify some of the western European races and bring those in.

"That core fanbase is strong, and there are some in the works that may very well come to pass in those traditional western European places.

"You’re always trying to balance both solidifying where you are strong, or core, which is historically western Europe, and then adding other things, like expansion to Vietnam, potentially a second race in China, potentially a race in Africa.

"We’re not yet prepared to announce any, but there’s a careful mix or blend of where you want to grow and where you want to solidify."

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