Formula 1 slam FIA for saying that the sport is not worth $20 billion

Formula 1 sent an incendiary letter to the FIA after the president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said that $20 billion was an inflated sum to buy the sports commercial rights
Formula 1 have accused FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem of interfering with a potential takeover
Formula 1 have accused FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem of interfering with a potential takeover

(Motorsport) Formula 1 bosses have accused FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem for his “unacceptable” interference in the alleged sale of the sport. Reports had emerged that there has been a bid from Saudi Arabia worth $20 billion for the commercial rights of Formula 1, prompting Ben Sulayem to raise concerns on Twitter about the possible consequences of an “inflated takeover” such as higher ticket prices for fans as the new owners will want to recoup their investment. The FIA president also said that any potential F1 buyer should “come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money”.

His remarks appear to have angered many Formula 1 bosses who have written a warning to the FIA that said that Ben Sulayem’s remarks have “interfered with our rights in an unacceptable manner”. F1 general counsel, Sacha Woodward Hill, and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media Corporation, F1’s controlling shareholder, have accused the FIA of straying beyond its remit. The letter was also circulated to the 10 Formula 1 teams. Bloomberg News had first reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was exploring a potential takeover worth $20 billion in 2022.

The letter warned the FIA that according to a 100 year deal, “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.” The letter also stated that the remarks by the FIA President “that any potential purchaser of the Formula 1 business is required to consult with the FIA is wrong”.

It added that Mr Ben Sulayem had “overstep[ped] the bounds of the FIA’s remit”, saying that “any individual or organisation commenting on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, especially claiming or implying possession of inside knowledge while doing so, risks causing substantial damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences. To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”

Also read: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff wants Mick Schumacher to regain permanent seat in F1


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