Maffei: F1 won’t ‘pit teams against each other’ in Concorde talks

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Liberty Media chief executive Greg Maffei says the commercial rights holder won’t “pit teams against each other” à la Bernie Ecclestone to seal a new Concorde Agreement that should benefit the sport as a whole.

The all-important covenant that dictates the commercial, financial and governance terms that bind the teams to the sport, and which is periodically renegotiated, is under review for 2026 when Formula 1 will usher in its next-generation technical regulations.

Over the past year, Formula One Management, the FIA and the teams have progressively ironed out a new accord, with talks now in their closing and perhaps most delicate stages.

Historically, Concorde Agreement discussions have often been a contentious affair, fueled by divide-and-conquer tactics promoted by Ecclestone.

The former F1 supremo understood that teams vying for a larger slice of the commercial rights pie held a weaker bargaining position individually compared to a united front.

Ecclestone's manipulative strategy involved offering secret bonuses to certain teams, creating divisions within the group and ultimately contributing to its demise as a single entity.

But recognizing the importance of a unified approach for the sport’s growth, Liberty and FOM wont resort to divisive tactics, which isn’t to say that difficulties haven’t arisen during the parties’ negotiations.

One contentious point which was recently resolved was the "Heritage Bonus" awarded to Ferrari for its historic presence in the world championship sport since its inception in 1950.

While Formula 1 was willing to retain this controversial element, much to the displeasure of the Scuderia’s rivals, a compromise was reached in the form of an upper limit to the Italian outfit’s bonus.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-24. 26.05.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

Maffei emphasizes the importance of collaboration, despite the fierce competition that takes place on the field.

Drawing inspiration from the NFL, the Liberty boss recognizes that collective success is vital to the league's overall growth, fostering a collaborative spirit during off-season discussions.

“The prior regime really did put a lot of time in having the teams compete against each other,” he said, speaking at an 'F1 in Depth' event last week in Monaco

“In many cases, they enjoyed just getting an edge on each other, rather than thinking about how to grow the sport.

“We've tried to take really a page out of, I'd say in some ways, the NFL in the United States: compete hard on Sunday, but on Monday league first. We really want to grow the sport together.

“The teams have embraced that, and profited from that, because they've not only seen the growth in F1 revenues and their share of the profits in their own sponsorship, but we’ve also seen growth in the value of teams.”

To bolster his argument for collaboration, Maffei pointed to the sport's recent commercial boom and the positive impact of the budget cap on teams finances.

The combination of these two factors has created the healthiest financial climate the F1 grid has ever seen and established a solid foundation for future growth.

“When we got involved in late 2016, and we made our first investment close in January 2017, the bottom teams were literally worthless,” Maffei explained.

“Manor had been sold for one pound the prior summer. And now there isn't a team that's worth less than a billion dollars, maybe more, and they raise money at those numbers.

“We've seen enormous growth in the value of the teams, just as we've seen growth in the value of F1.

“But actually, the teams' values have probably increased more. And that was important: we needed to have a mentality of investment and mentality that these were franchises that they could really have true value. And today that's happened.”

While Liberty champions a collaborative approach, Maffei knows that the final stretch of his negotiations won’t be entirely smooth sailing.

“There are surely issues we're going to fight over. [And] what a surprise: they would like to make more money. I don't begrudge them that,” he added.

“I suspect some of that, they wish, might come out of our pocket. But in general, they appreciate we've tried to take the long view, and we try to take the view that we should all profit together.”

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