F1 ‘playing promoters off each other’ to boost race fees - Maffei

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Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei has confessed that Formula 1 has been able to take advantage of the strong global demand for race franchises “to play promoters off each other” and lift race fees.

Formula 1 currently operates at near capacity with a 24-race calendar, just one shy of the maximum allowed by the sport’s Concorde Agreements.

Grand Prix racing’s global growth has ensured a steady demand for new additions to F1’s calendar. But this has also created a sense of “scarcity” among potential promoters which Formula One Management (FOM) has cleverly leveraged to maximize the value of existing races.

“For a long time, it was perceived that the growth and promotion would come from incremental races,” explained Maffei in a conference call with Wall Street analysts earlier this week.

“We obviously went from 18 or something to up to this 24 level, which is where we do not anticipate growing any more races.

“But, it actually creates a great incentive scarcity, to be able to play promoters off against each other – and not to try and take advantage of them but just given the amount of demand we have, both among fans to attend and among promoters to host an event.

“We've been able to find attractive pricing and good uplifts.

“And we continue to find new venues and new locations, which find it very attractive, given the amount of demand we have and given the opportunities they've seen others pursue,” he added.

“So, so far, so good on promotion. I do think it continues to be a growth area.”

Miami GP winner Lando Norris with Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei.

While FOM believes that its calendar is currently optimized with 24 races, CEO Stefano Domenicali foresees new venues joining its schedule in the future.

However, this expansion will inevitably come at the expense of existing races on the docket.

“There continues to be huge interest and demand for our races around the world,” Domenicali said.

“Our focus is to maintain the right strategic balance of locational opportunities while being clear we currently believe a 24-race schedule is the optimal number of events.

“What you have seen and what we have seen happening in the course of the last years, because of the strong demand of our products and because of the standards we are asking and working together with our promoter, we are seeing everything going up in terms of the quality of the events of course economically but for both the promoter and our side,” he added.

“And the strong demand we are receiving just shows really the strategy is right now.

“The other point is the balance between the different continents that are requesting the different grands prix.

“I would say in the next couple of years, I'm expecting to see and we expect to announce also some new venues that that could be very attractive to grow the business of Formula 1,” the Italian concluded.

Several venues have solidified their F1 future with significant contract extensions. Leading the pack is Australia, securing its spot on the calendar all the way through 2037. Bahrain, a mainstay since 2004, has extended its contract until 2036.

Silverstone, the historic of the British Grand Prix, is locked in until 2034, ensuring the continued roar of F1 engines across its iconic grounds.

Qatar and Hungary round out the long-term commitments, both extending their hosting rights until 2032.

Singapore and Japan, established favorites with passionate fanbases, have five years remaining on their current deals.

Adding to the excitement, the Spanish capital, Madrid, is poised to join the prestigious lineup in 2026, with a ten-year contract already signed.

However, eight events face potential uncertainty as their agreements are set to expire next year. This group includes some of Formula 1's most historic circuits, raising concerns among fans.

The fate of legendary tracks like Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Monza in Italy and Zandvoort in the Netherlands remains to be negotiated, prompting speculation about a possible regional rotation scheme between events.

Negotiations for these races will be crucial for F1 to maintain a healthy balance between established favorites and the allure of new destinations.

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