Liberty CEO insists F1 sell-off 'not in the cards'

Paddock atmosphere - F1 logo. 04.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Price / XPB Images
© XPB 

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei insists that the company has no interest in offloading the commercial rights to Formula 1.

The business paid $4.6 billion in 2017 for full shares in F1's parent company Delta Topco, ending Bernie Ecclestone's decades-long reign at the top of world motorsport management.

Liberty's subsequent involvement in boosting the global profile of the sport means that F1 has gone from strength to strength, with recent reports suggesting that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund had valued F1 in excess of $20 billion.

It was made clear at the time that Liberty had no interest in accepting any such bid for F1, and this week Maffei reiterated to the Moffett Nathanson Media and Communications Summit that this was still the case.

“Anyone says that our friends the Saudis are going to buy it next week or something like that - if anybody knows us, they should know that’s just not in our cards.

Circuit atmosphere - Paddock Club.
17.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

“We are very enthused about where Formula 1 is now, but [also] where it’s going as well," he said, indicating that Liberty still saw plenty of ways of growing the value of the business further still.

"You look at the big revenue streams there, all have good direction," he pointed out in comments reported by

"In broadcasting we have increased fans and we have increased distributors who want to push the product, including new digital distributors and the like. We have promoters who are our partners.

"Sponsorship has grown dramatically," he told the conference. "We’ve opened up the number of global sponsors. I think we’ve gone from five to 12 of our biggest sponsor types.

“We are continuing to see traction there and I think we’re well set up," he added. "We are able to get upticks in what we get paid."

Circuit atmosphere - Paddock Club.
04.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Preparation Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Maffei reported that attendance for the second Miami GP was up 25 per cent on the numbers seen for the maiden 2022 event, adding: "That’s not unique."

"We have been able to add a few races and there’s maybe a little more room left there," he said. "They’re selling out everywhere, particularly the high-end experiences, the Paddock Clubs, all at better prices."

Liberty has high hopes for the inaugural Las Vegas GP in the autumn, for which it is taking a hands-on organisational role in addition to its overall management responsibility for the series.

"We have a new opportunity with what we’re doing in Las Vegas where we will be the promoter and we have a opportunity to learn about something and hopefully set the bar.”

While Liberty has been quick to deny that any plans to sell its stake in F1, there have also been rumours in the other direction - that they are looking to expand their involvement in motorsport in the US.

Greg Maffei (USA) Liberty Media Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer.
28.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Last month, Penske Corporation president Bud Denker denied that US open-wheel series IndyCar is for sale amid speculation that Liberty was lining up an acquisition and making it into a stateside feeder series for F1.

"There’s no truth to any of that," Denker said. "There’s been no discussion, and frankly, we wouldn’t sell it." RACER magazine said that enquiries to Liberty had confirmed that the rumours were "completely wrong".

Penske acquired IndyCar from the Hulman family in early 2020 in addition to taking over over the the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and rights to the Indianapolis 500 in a deal said to be worth between $250 and $300 million.

That would be small change for Liberty given the current valuation of F1, you might think.

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