Saudi Arabia explored possible Formula 1 buyout – reports

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In the round-up: The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund explored a potential buyout of Formula 1 from Liberty media, according to reports

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Saudi Arabia explored possible Formula 1 buyout – reports

The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund explored a potential buyout of Formula 1 from Liberty Media, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The fund reportedly enquired with Liberty Media about their interest in selling the commercial rights to the world championship, but Formula 1’s owners said they had no intentions of selling at this time.

The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund has become increasingly active in the sporting world in recent years, taking over English Premier League football club Newcastle United and has been linked with a potential buyout of World Wrestling Entertainment in recent weeks.

Ecclestone in court over tax fraud charges

Former Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone appeared in court today as part of proceedings for his upcoming trial over tax fraud.

Ecclestone will face trial in November over a charge of fraud by false representation over failing to declare a bank account of $650m in Singapore to the UK’s HMRC tax office.

The 92-year-old had not yet entered a plea to the charge, with his trial set to begin on November 16th.

Barter progresses to FIA F3 with Campos

Hugh Barter will graduate into the FIA Formula 3 championship this season, remaining with the Campos team with which he raced in the Spanish Formula 4 championship last year.

The 17-year-old will join team mate Christian Mansell with the team’s third driver to be confirmed. Barter finish second in both the Spanish and French F4 championships last year, taking 16 race wins and 10 combined pole positions. He also completed two days of testing in an F3 car with Campos.

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Comment of the day

With the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix still reigning supreme as RaceFans’ highest rated race of all time, Corran Horn agrees that the race cannot be topped…

Never say never but it would take some beating – still think this has to be THE best F1 race of all time. It had pretty much everything, from an incredible title fight that flipped back and forth with fantastic displays of driving from both Vettel and Alonso, to a fascinating race where an underdog oh so nearly pulled off a win that ended in heartbreak, to the chaos with the rain, cars going off, Webber and Raikkonen having a thrill a minute it seemed, with even the backmarkers of Marussia and Catherham having a “to the death” fight.

Also, consider the historical context of the race – last time we saw one of the greatest of all time take to the F1 track. Hamilton’s last race with McLaren, both a big moment given his long pathership with them and what happened afterwards with Mercedes. What could well be Alonso’s last ever chance to win a title. Arguably the race that put Vettel firmly in the hall of fame (3 titles seems to separate the exceptional from the great champions – not an actual rule though hence why I say arguably).

I just can’t think of any race where that much happened, we’ve had chaotic races before and since but the first 19 laps of Brazil felt like a race in itself. An utterly breathtaking race that, personally anyway, will always be remembered.
Corran Horn

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Oukilf1, Bruno and Ehsansatti!

On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1998 the Sauber C17 was launched at the Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna.

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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33 comments on “Saudi Arabia explored possible Formula 1 buyout – reports”

  1. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund explored a potential buyout of Formula 1 from Liberty media

    I can imagine how many people would feel if they’d been successful. We’d never hear the end of it here.
    Lots of pantomime reactions, but they’d all still watch it.

    1. I wouldn’t.

      1. Even if F1 and participation/viewing accessibility actually vastly improved as a result – you’d really stop watching it simply because of who owns the commercial rights?

        Ah well, whatever floats your boat. Everyone draws a line somewhere, I guess – although some people put it in very strange places.

      2. Me neither. Strange assumption, no one can think for all of “them”. If F1 was ran by those murderers and slave owners, no, I wouldn’t watch it. It would take far less than that actually, and I did skip some seasons before; it’s not an impossible task. Nothing deserves absolute loyalty by the “fans”. How many people would stop watching? I don’t know, I don’t care, I can only speak for myself (I suggest you do the same).

        1. I can only speak for myself (I suggest you do the same).

          I didn’t speak for anyone but myself.
          Sure, “all” was an exaggeration – but the point is valid. Most will still watch, not least because they recognise that most things in life involve aspects or connections that they may not like or agree with.

          1. I can imagine how many people would feel if they’d been successful. We’d never hear the end of it here.
            Lots of pantomime reactions, but they’d all still watch it.

            You quite literally did speak for others.

            The debate bating is just tiring now. Every single article. People are quite permitted to have other opinions, and if that extends to “I won’t watch the sport on the basis of its ownership”, that shouldn’t be dismissed or pilloried.

          2. You quite literally did speak for others.

            Which bit?
            I posted an opinion. You agree that I’m allowed to, right?

            and if that extends to “I won’t watch the sport on the basis of its ownership”, that shouldn’t be dismissed or pilloried.

            Freedom of speech in action. Don’t you just love it?
            Better than the alternative, isn’t it. Or would you prefer a permanent state of collective groupthink?

            Really, I’m just presenting an observation of human behaviour. It must cut quite close to the bone for some people.
            Every time F1 puts forward an idea or plan for change we hear the same old stuff, usually from the same old people. “If they do this, I’ll stop watching F1 after (X) decades.”
            And each time, they keep watching it…

    2. In the end the core wouldn’t change much. Of course as the time would go by some things would but I doubt it would be more difficult for a women driver to rise to the top level of motorsport but some things would change. I don’t know which ones but it would drive some fans away from the sport.

    3. We’d never hear the end of it here

      F1 is sitting on a knife edge, one slip and the abyss is the destination.
      Consider: if people decide they aren’t participating as viewers, there’s nothing to comment about and this forum becomes rather quiet.

    4. I already don’t watch SA GP, if SA buys F1 I stop watching it 100%. I follow F1 since 1980.

      1. They can’t “buy F1” – they can only purchase the commercial rights. Exactly what Liberty did.
        F1 would remain the property of the FIA.

        I sometimes wonder how much people really know about where money in F1 comes from….
        Perhaps if they really knew, they already wouldn’t watch it.

        But I suspect the vast majority would, because ultimately it doesn’t really matter. If it’s worth watching, most people will.

        1. Really? “they can only purchase the commercial rights”
          Don’t be patronizing, when we both know that is exactly what I was talking about.

          1. Well, since they wouldn’t actually be ‘buying F1’ you should have no reason to stop watching it…
            Have you completely boycotted petrol and diesel fuels, plastics, and everything else made from oil too? Guess where that stuff comes from.

          2. Oh, and you are aware that Aramco is one of F1’s biggest sponsors, right?

          3. LOL Why do I get this feeling you sit in some troll farm hired by SA?

          4. You mean I can get paid for this???

  2. Hah, aiming to be devoid of any moral boundaries probably isn’t much of an aspiration.
    If they have the money to pay for it, everyone should fall in line and shut up right?

    1. Well, it is optional…..

  3. Well, buy the entire series if money & motivation are a non-issue, although I doubt much would change on-track action & operations-wise.

    Perhaps someday, although several post-2012 races have also been great, like the 2014 Bahrain GP, for example.

  4. One thing about Brazil 2012 is that every lap of the race was fascinating. The actual highpoints of drama may not have been on the level of other races but some of the greatest races in history are as such because of just a few incredible laps, such as Silverstone 1965, Dijon 1979, Monaco 1982, arguably Suzuka 1989. But Brazil was good throughout. For me it doesn’t beat Canada 2011 or Brazil 2008 but it is still close, and an amazing race. In terms of, ‘will anything ever top it?’, it would certainly help to have the season finale back at Interlagos rather than Yas Marina.

    1. Agreed – for me, both Canada ‘11 and Brazil ‘08 are much better races.

      1. Brazil 2008 and Canada 2022 were absolutely amazing, but both had one main storyline that made it stand out. Brazil 2012 had so much going on that it made you feel like one screen was not enough to follow all that was going on! There are so many different clips and highlights that had nothing to do with eachother but are unforgettable non the less, that’s what makes it stand out for me.

  5. The BBC article on the Iron Dames is refreshingly practical. Unsurprising, as the Iron Dames have done great in the ELMS both as a team competitively and as an example of how with only slight nudges women can compete just fine and definitely don’t need segregated series. There’s also the awareness that it takes time for ‘the special ones’ like your Hamiltons, Dixons, Vettels, Kristensens etc. to make it up through the ranks.

    Unfortunately, motorsport is always going to be a very expensive sport, which automatically rules out a large percentage of talent from ever having a serious karting, never mind car racing career. Even in a lower category like the one in which NASCAR driver Amber Balcaen participates, she described basically having a full-time fundraising job alongside her racing.

    1. MichaelN, with regards to fundraising, it’s interesting that, whilst it is often assumed by many that sponsors would love a successful female driver, the feedback from drivers in IndyCar suggests it’s actually not the case.

      Both the male and female drivers in that series, and also the figures who manage those drivers, believe that, if anything, it is harder for female drivers to raise sponsorship, and that’s due to the sponsors perceiving motorsport as having an audience dominated by middle aged men. At least some female drivers have said that sponsors bluntly refused to sponsor them on the grounds that male drivers were actually more effective at selling their products to a male dominated audience, and similarly managers have found that the more common sponsors in the motorsport sector seemed to be less willing to engage into talks that involve female drivers, rather than male drivers.

      It seems that, whilst quite a few parties wanted to be associated with a female driver, often it seems they were tending to want to use that female driver for their own benefit – i.e. they’d ask them to, for example, give a speech on their behalf – but would often then decline to provide any financial support.

      Others, meanwhile, would provide short term sponsorship to a female driver with the aim of cashing in on the short term publicity boost, and then drop them once the short term media headlines dissipated – it’s happened several times in sportscar racing, for example, where a driver or team would get sponsored for a season, and then the sponsors would dump them because “we’ve got the headlines we wanted”.

      1. Absolutely, and perhaps somewhat ironically this is probably worse in the lower categories which, if they even have a meaningful audience, tend to have one that’s more focused on motorsport, cars and related products with a predominantly male demographic (at which point one should note that it’s perhaps to women’s credit that they don’t get overly anxious about the kind of springs or oil in their cars).

        The premier series like WEC, F1, WRC, or more regionally things like Indycar, NASCAR Cup or Super Formula have a much broader reach and audience where it makes sense for people to market things like IT services, shipping, banking, fashion and other lifestyle products which are more generally interesting to both men and women.

        Come to think of it, it’s actually a bit surprising Red Bull hasn’t done more with female drivers. Their whole schtick is to sell a lifestyle/image, and they sponsor loads of female athletes in extremely niche sports.

      2. Just one thing missing from all that, though.
        There’s yet to be a highly successful female in modern, top-level motorsport for companies to support.
        Most female drivers (especially recently) have turned out, at best, to be midfielders. Unexceptional and uninspiring. The prime reason they aren’t attractive to sponsors is lack of likely ROI. Too risky, until they’ve already proven themselves.
        Although, to be fair, that’s true with the vast majority of males too.

        1. And yet there’s plenty of uninspiring, midfield at best male drivers who can get sponsorship.. For some reason people demand women have to be exceptional and proven to get a chance, whereas there’s plenty of men who have just been there and gotten a ride

          1. For some reason, some people think that it isn’t about the same for both genders.
            Statistically speaking, it seems about right to me. Out of every 100 competitors, 95 might be male and the rest female – so the extension of that is that about 95% of the funding will go to male competitors, and the rest female….
            Sound about right?

            I get that there’s a bunch of people who think that the lower participation rates by females requires some kind of special treatment, but in reality (if current efforts are anything to go by) those special measures aren’t doing female racers any favours.
            Actually, it can be argued that they are doing more harm than good.

            Women don’t need to be any more exceptional than men do – but it sure helps for both if they are.
            An unexceptional competitor is battling against the wind regardless of their gender.

  6. Abu Dabi 21The first ever shampionship won by a race director. Top that! :) :) :)

  7. Brazil 2012 was a good race but TBH it isn’t a race I think back to as been super amazing or anything, It’s not even a race I really ever think about as been great or anything.

    Certainly not in the same way I look back at races like Imola 2005/06, Dijon ’79, Jarama ’81, Monaco ’92, Silverstone ’03 or Japan ’05 to name a few. Races which for varying reasons I loved at the time & have enjoyed just as much in subsequent rewatches.

    Then again I just didn’t really enjoy the 2012 season all that much anyway as it for me was the start of the move towards F1 beginning to feel more like a show over been a sport. It’s actually the year I can trace back to as been when the love/passion for the sport i’d had since the mid 1970’s began to wane directly as a result of the gimmicks & show over sport mentality.

  8. Read some rumours about numbers involved in the bid to Liberty and have to say that if that is true (it was a lot and at least 4 times Liberty’s investment) than this is actually the first positive sign of Liberty I get after they opened up their circus to social media. A surprisingly non greedy response.

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