In the round-up: Forbes’ assessment of how much sports empires are worth puts F1 owner at the top of the list for 2023.
Forbes names F1’s owner as most valuable entity in sports
Forbes magazine has named Formula 1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media as the most valuable sports empire of 2023.
It estimates are that “the world’s 25 most valuable sports empires are worth a total of $173 billion, 23% more than a year ago”, although its methods for including aggregate values of companies that own multiple sport franchises has changed for this year to boost the value of such companies or empire-owning families.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given its global calendar and nine-month competition schedule, F1 is Liberty’s most valuable property. While a $20 billion (£16.15bn) price tag has been recently touted as F1’s value, and has instigated a conflict between Formula One Management and the FIA following the latter’s response to such reports, Forbes estimates F1 is actually worth $17.1 billion (£13.8bn) after taking into consideration new television deals that were signed last year.
In addition to that, ‘during the past year, the price of F1’s tracking stocks have increased 5%’. The total commercial value of Liberty, which also has a minority share in IndyCar team Meyer Shank Racing, is put at $20.8 billion (£16.8bn) by Forbes.
Kuwait welcomes single-seaters with Safety Car action
Kuwait Motor Town’s first ever weekend of single-seater action did not quite go to plan, with the Formula Regional Middle East and Formula 4 United Arab Emirates championships spending most of their race time either under Safety Car or red flag conditions.
The 5.6-kilometre track in Kuwait did have several good overtaking spots, namely the long straight to turn two and the downhill turn seven right-hander. However some drivers proved overly enthusiastic in attack and defence at these places.
FRME’s first race (above) was stopped on lap one following two huge crashes at turn two that involved cars rolling, riding over the top of each other, losing wheels and being sent skyward from various forms of contact. Ferrari junior Dino Beganovic won that race, with Joshua Dufek and Sami Meguetounif winning the next two which both ran behind the Safety Car following lap one crashes.
F4 had the honour of being scheduled as the first ever open-wheel race in Kuwait (below), but the history-making action lasted half a lap before red flags waved following multiple incidents. Ferrari junior James Wharton won the restarted encounter.
Race two was the same, with a half of lap of action then the race being stopped entirely. This time Wharton just lost out to McLaren junior Ugo Ugochukwu when the cars returned to track, and former Sauber junior Zachary David dominated race three. He took the lead at the restart following a Safety Car period, which had been required after Wharton and his title rivals had collisions on lap one.
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Motor racing links of interest:
Herta eager to help Wickens get back to racing in IndyCar with hand controls (Racer)
'Wickens has been searching for years to find the funding to fit an Indy car with hand controls in order to resume a mercurial rookie IndyCar season that came to a premature end after suffering a punishing crash on the Pocono oval in 2018.'
Foster wins in wet on FRegional Oceania debut (Speedcafe)
'Louis Foster claimed victory on debut in round three of the Formula Regional Oceania championship at Manfeild. Foster bested poleman Charlie Wurz to the chequered flag in the 22-lap race, but Wurz was then penalised post-race.'
F1 academies, a must (Autohebdo)
'Despite the profound changes that have affected F1 since the arrival at the helm of Liberty Media, the importance of the academies in the accession to the premier category of young drivers has not diminished.'
John Lennon house and Lewis Hamilton mansion on offshore ownership register (The Guardian)
'Hamilton declared himself the owner of three companies that were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, with correspondence addresses in Guernsey. The company structure is understood to have been arranged to protect the Formula One driver’s privacy.'
Open dispute with the FIA (Auto Motor und Sport)
'FIA president Ben Sulayem once again called for the FIA to sit at the table in possible sales negotiations. 'The championship is ours, we have only rented it out. So far there are only rumors about a possible sale. But the FIA should have a say and be able to offer advice.''
Alonso protege Andres Cardenas steps up to car racing with Campos (Formula Scout)
'Peruvian karter Andres Cardenas, a member of Fernando Alonso’s A14 Management stable, will step up to single-seaters this year with Campos Racing. Alonso made his car racing debut with Campos back in 1999, and the team will run Cardenas in Spanish Formula 4.'
We always endeavour to credit original sources. If you have a tip for a link relating to single-seater motorsport to feature in the next RaceFans round-up please send it to us via the contact form.
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Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:
– #F1 × #新幹線 🔥💨 – ◢|
２日後の真相をお楽しみにッ!!✨ #RedBull #BAKUSOU pic.twitter.com/FgLLgEiekb
— レッドブル モータースポーツ (@redbullmotorJP) January 28, 2023
🗣️ “I just don’t know what went wrong!”
We’re back in the Drivers’ Room after an absolute thriller in Diriyah! 😮💨 #DiriyahEPrix pic.twitter.com/DNV2GYEPkw
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) January 28, 2023
Hard qualy today… we tried something different that didn’t work at all 🤬
In Formula E details are everything.
P20 and we fight back 🤜🏻🤛🏻 pic.twitter.com/Ymuvd1Wl1Y
— Lucas Di Grassi (@LucasdiGrassi) January 28, 2023
That was Friday at the @RaceOfChampions🤘 the FC1-X is mad, almost took @FelipeDrugovich into space 😂
Tomorrow, the real competition begins… let's go defend that Nations Cup! 😎 #ROCSweden pic.twitter.com/jkNGCjZsv7
— Oliver Solberg (@OliverSolberg01) January 27, 2023
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- Find more official F1 accounts to follow in the F1 Twitter Directory
Comment of the day
Williams’ reserve driver Jack Aitken has left the team for 2023, with the one-time grand prix starter focusing on his programme in the top GTP prototype sports car class of the four-race IMSA Endurance Cup.
That series has just one date clash with the F1 calendar, and started this weekend with the Daytona 24 Hours race.
Aitken last raced a single-seater car in Formula 2 one-and-a-half years ago, and has been in sports car racing since then. His departure from Williams leaves the team with a vacancy it has a month to fill.
So who will their reserve driver be? It’s not obvious from their list of academy drivers (indeed I’m not sure who among them has enough super license points). Are they just going to wing it like with De Vries? Or maybe recall Latifi if there’s enough notice?
Happy birthday to Graeme, Hazel J, Mpj1994, Shery, Southpawracer, Hester Burger, William and Jack !
30 comments on “F1 owner Liberty Media named most valuable sports empire”
29th January 2023, 1:17
Can anyone provide some kind of insight as to why Sulayem is going down this route? It seems to me this could all be handled far more privately. At the end of the day FIA needs to approve of the sale so what the new show-runners plan to do commercially is ultimately up to the FIA.
The only logical conclusion I can come to is that it’s just a rouse from both sides to keep F1 in the headlines with articles that don’t include the words human rights.
29th January 2023, 6:15
Liberty are just being put back in their box a bit by F1’s owner. And about time too.
They’ve probably tried doing it privately – but this is how the world is these days. Everything is public now – for some it’s a last resort, for others it’s the first.
The FIA make their money from F1 regardless of whether or not it’s in the headlines during the off-season.
They are more concerned about the sporting aspects and accessibility of F1 not being overly degraded by the raw greed and selfish desire for money which is the direction Liberty and the teams are pushing F1.
And yes, that includes effectively banning any new teams from entering…
29th January 2023, 6:35
I don’t know how the FIA can be called the owners. All they have is a veto on the sale, which admittedly, is a major piece of power. They’re just a sanctioning body though and Liberty paid billions for what actually matters: the commercial rights to the entire sport. The FIA can’t slap the F1 logo on a t-shirt or run a series called F1 without Liberty’s permission.
Let’s take a look at what a bad job the FIA did for years and how much progress F1 has made in terms of revenue, attendance and viewership since Liberty purchased F1. Do you really want an EU-style sanctioning body to be the one calling the shots for F1? Seems like a clear recipe for failure.
29th January 2023, 8:17
It’s probably got something to do with the fact that they actually own it….
They lease out the commercial rights (currently to Liberty) but FIA most definitely still own F1.
They can use the F1 logos for their own internal requirements – but they don’t for external purposes, and wouldn’t because the FIA don’t do that (commercial) stuff.
Exactly why would the FIA want to start another racing series comparable to F1 when they actually own the F1 anyway?
Regardless, the reverse is true too. Liberty can’t do anything significant to F1 without the FIA’s approval (certainly not beyond commercial management) – nor can they go off and start or support another series called ‘F1’ either. Or Formula just-about-anything-else, for that matter.
F1 is a sporting business owned by the FIA, and commercially managed (under contract) by Liberty Media.
29th January 2023, 10:44
FIA is a rulebook and a handful of employees to enforce those rules. This entire structure exists only because Bernie and the teams could have walked away and created their own thing and killing the FIA’s precious Formula One dead in the 70s.
Once the next Concorde agreement is due, this could still happen. Yes FIA own the F1 trademark and are allowed to run the enforcement of the rule book. And they’re allowed it by the virtue of FOM and the participants of the sport. Ben is the first leader of the FIA since Jean-Marie Balestre who thinks he can bully the FOM and its teams into submission. Didn’t end that well for Balestre. The value isn’t in the rulebook and the F1 trademark, it’s entirely in the FOM’s side of the business.
29th January 2023, 11:01
If Liberty and the teams want to go off and start a new series all by themselves without any FIA interaction, then good luck to them. They’ll need it.
I’m betting they won’t, though. Ever. There are some very good and convincing reasons why they’ve never done it before, despite their (sporadic) historical tensions…
The FIA is much more than what you describe.
29th January 2023, 16:53
@sjaakfoo the FIA does not actually own any trademarks with respect to Formula 1, as when the FIA signed their agreement with the European Commission, the FIA agreed that “The role of FIA will be limited to that of a sports regulator, with no commercial conflicts of interest.”
As a result, the ownership of trademarked terms – such as “FIA Formula 1 World Drivers Championship” – does not reside with the FIA but with Formula One Licensing BV, which is part of the Formula One Group. If the FIA did own those trademarks, it would result in commercial conflicts of interest that would be in violation of the agreement they signed with the Commission.
In fact, the terms of the agreement that the FIA struck with the European Commission state the following:
“The new regulatory environment removes the previously identified obstacles to intra-brand as well as inter-brand competition. Competing events and series within the formula one discipline (and with other motor sport disciplines) will be possible. The reforms also create the possibility of increased inter-brand competition. New disciplines can be created, and events and series in potentially competing disciplines can be approved. FIA will have neither the commercial incentive nor the regulatory power to limit the type and number of events it authorises, other than on the basis of objective criteria.
The notified agreements as amended will remove those barriers which had prevented in the past the use of FIA licensed products and circuits or the participation of FIA licensees in different disciplines or in competing events in the same discipline. The proposed changes to the notified agreements will, for example, result in the availability of racetracks in Europe for rival series to use, even if these circuits already host FIA Formula One championship events.”
For a start, as noted in the ruling, the term “Formula One”, strictly speaking, is a means of categorising a motorsport series – there are other motorsport series that have the legal entitlement to use the term “F1” or “Formula 1”, such as Formula 1 Stock Cars.
In the hypothetical scenario that another series wished to compete in the “formula one discipline”, the FIA is legally required to permit rival series from competing with their own licenced series, and it is also legally required to permit circuits to be used by that hypothetical rival series.
It does also mean that, strictly speaking, the FIA does not “own F1” – as it is legally defined as having a regulatory role only, theoretically the series does have the legal right, if it so wished, to appoint a regulatory body other than the FIA to run the series.
30th January 2023, 10:56
For these purposes, ‘Formula 1’ is indeed a generic term that the FIA cannot claim sole ownership of. As noted, there are other series that use this identifier. What are commonly called ‘F1 races’ are actually ‘Formula 1’ (generic term) races of “the FIA Formula One World Championship” – which, as the Sporting Regulations make explicit, ‘is the property of the FIA’.
If anyone wants to make the FIA organize a, let’s say, “Red Bull Formula One World Championship”, that might be legally possible, but is no doubt going to result in endless stalling, obstruction, legal procedures, etc.
30th January 2023, 14:02
Can’t do the commercial.
Their big chest thump is “70 years from now the rights to the F1 brand reverts back to us!” But if the rights holder decided to just cancel F1 for the next 50 years they could. How much would their precious F1 brand be worth then?
30th January 2023, 15:30
No. They couldn’t.
That would be a breach of contract.
However, the FIA could effectively cancel F1 by various means, thereby totally destroying the commercial rights holder’s investment.
29th January 2023, 15:53
S, even some of Sulayem’s supporters have suggested that the way that this has been handled is more down to Sulayem’s ego than actually caring for the best interests of the sport.
The talks appear to have been quite speculative, with some suggesting that the $20 billion figure is misleading and the talks did not progress far enough for an offer to have been made. Furthermore, the talks appear to have ended quite some time ago, with the indication that Sulayem already knew the talks had come to nothing long before the Bloomberg report was published.
Sulayem’s reaction has been to make himself central to the story, not the governing body itself. Even some of his allies in the FIA have complained about Sulayem abusing his position by making his own personal statements through his own social media account – cutting the FIA itself entirely out of the discussions, any decision making, any consideration of the legal implications and so forth – and acting in a way designed to create a problem to then maximise his own position in the media, with the actual interests of the FIA being secondary to the image that he wants to create in the press.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
29th January 2023, 9:52
@skipgamer I think Ben Sulayem is just trying to assert the FIA’s control in its longrunning dispute with Liberty. Andrew Benson reported last year that Liberty wants to cut the FIA out of the sport’s operations and reduce them to a ceremonial role. Of course, they have no way to do that short of a breakaway series, but it’s not hard to see why they want to, given the FIA’s endless rules controversies and race mismanagement. It’s hard to think of another sanctioning body in any sport that has done so much damage to its own property through lack of competence in the basic operation of competition.
It must be especially galling to Liberty from their perspective in the US, where the concept of a separate sanctioning body is obsolete. Every major sports league in the US sanctions itself, writes its own regulations, and referees its own competitions, from the NFL down to Nascar and IndyCar. That’s clearly the model Liberty would like to have, and what Ben Sulayem seems determined to resist.
29th January 2023, 10:17
These would be many of the same rules that the teams wanted put in place – even going so far as essentially writing them themselves? And when applied to the writing of the rule, teams then contend that that’s not what they wanted at all?
It can be argued that Liberty have done more damage to F1 in some ways than the FIA ever could – or would ever want to.
You know why the commercial rights have been contracted out, don’t you? Why ‘F1’ doesn’t run everything themselves, like those other series you mention do?
Liberty knew what they were buying into, and also knew about all the strings that were attached to it.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
29th January 2023, 10:29
And who let the teams write them? Handing the pen over to the teams is not a sign of strong, competent regulation.
You’re giving Liberty quite a bit of credit there.
29th January 2023, 10:43
The FIA have relied upon their commercial rights holding partner to run F1 as a collaboration. This has worked well in the past to keep all parties involved content, and there was no reason to expect that that wouldn’t continue.
Sadly Liberty have taken things too far as F1 has become too financially-focused, and the FIA now want to pull it back a bit to a more sensible place. A more sporting and accessible place for more people – not just those who wear Rolex accessories and own private jets.
If they truly didn’t know all that, then they really are incompetent and absolutely should have their head pulled in by the FIA.
The reality is that Liberty are overstepping the line on what F1 is, what it means, and ultimately, who it is for.
Personally, I think the FIA’s stance on this is the right one.
29th January 2023, 12:13
@markzastrow The teams are important to F1’s success. The three parties are not at odds, they’re all invested in to making F1 profitable. And it is, ridiculously so compared to other motorsports. The scheme is working very well. These scuffles are just slight ripples in a pond nobody wants to fundamentally change. The FIA makes much more money from F1 than from any other series, and people like Wolff and Horner wouldn’t be as rich as they are if they ran ELMS teams, and similarly Liberty Media wouldn’t be able to sell broadcasting rights for the kind of money they do now if they owned the WEC license.
The thing about F1 is that it’s not really that special. The history is nice, but few people know about it beyond vague generalities (Prost was cool! Clark the best! Even Fangio has been somewhat fading now that Schumacher and Hamilton have eclipsed his title count). The cars are quick, but that’s not some special achievement. Indycar and the WEC could quite easily rearrange their regulations to make the cars just as fast if they wanted to.
The special status of F1 is largely a myth, and everyone involved benefits from keeping it like that. What could upset this? Aside from declining viewers for motorsports the world over, there is one other obvious one and that’s something the FIA has been investing plenty of time and money into over the recent years.
If the FIA/ACO/IMSA group ever decides to start running sprint races of say, 60 to 120 minutes, then it’ll be DEFCON 1 at Liberty Media – because a series with much more raceable cars, much more competitive fields, and manufacturers from Ferrari, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota to Porsche and Lamborghini all being involved… that’s not something they like at all. As it stands, the limits placed on sportscars’ reach by 8 to 24 hour races keeps everyone content in their own series.
29th January 2023, 5:59
Interesting cool-down room conversation.
While I’ve already responded to COTD in the relevant article, the easy solution is to have Mick substitute if necessary.
Mercedes reserve drivers have generally been shared reserve drivers among different Mercedes-powered teams, although AM already has two that fill the bill, so more so Mclaren & Williams.
Furthermore, Latifi, in all likelihood, won’t race in F1 again unless his father buys a team, a la Lawrence Stroll, or enters a new one, & both scenarios are unlikely.
29th January 2023, 6:28
How are Sulayem’s comments that the “The F1 championship is ours,” he and that “We have only rented it out” not its own article here yet? That is big news IMO and sets up a possible major clash between Liberty and the FIA. This guy seems like a power hungry gaffe machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if those sexist comments weren’t dug up by Liberty and fed to The Times in the start of a bid to get rid of BS (poetically appropriate initials for the guy IMO).
29th January 2023, 8:21
I suggest you read the F1 Sporting Regulations Article 1.1.
30th January 2023, 13:57
A comment above goes into expansive detail on the fact that the FIA’s only power is the super license and the veto and design rules that are collaborative process mainly dictated by commercial and team interests. Liberty could decide to have F1 conducted with a split screen of mud wrestling the paddock and F1 if they wanted.
If Liberty decided to cancel F1, they could. The FIA wouldn’t be able to sanction another series called Formula One. Compared to what the FIA can control.
31st January 2023, 3:57
It does go into lots of detail, but that’s not the entirety of the FIA’s status, position and function.
Unless this anonymous poster is working on the inside AND has a copy of the FIA/Liberty contract, they are no more in on the details than other commenters here, sourcing publicly available information.
Perhaps that’s true – but they would be damaging their own financial investment far more than they would be affecting the FIA.
I’d like to see them attempt it now, just to show you how utterly silly this argument is.
Why would they want to? They own THE F1!
Let’s play the hypotheticals game for a moment, and pretend that current F1 has completely stalled in a stalemate between the FIA and Liberty.
Liberty has no rights or means to run F1 without the FIA. They have nothing. They could, theoretically, start an entirely new (unrelated) racing series and attempt to entice the current F1 teams and drivers over, but would run into many hurdles in having to deal with the FIA locally, regionally and internationally for various safety, certification and approval factors. Dead end.
FIA, on the other hand, can run the series that they still own, under the existing rules (which they also own) and under all the same operational conditions that they currently do. If they did split into two separate series, that would relieve the FIA of the EU’s laws on monopolies/limiting competition which required them to appoint a commercial rights holder in the first place.
Now, I ask you – if this were to happen, who do you think the teams would choose?
The FIA have manufacturers and governments on board, and all the circuits, and all the rules for international competition. No restrictions to competition nor the marketing avenues it provides – they could even come up with an entirely new financial model for F1 to run under that doesn’t involve a marketing company taking 50% of the profits.
What would Liberty have? A brand they can’t use, brand new rules that are completely untested along with a massive lead time to implement, teams that have to decide between what they know and have equipment for versus a new, risky venture without any security at all, plus the obstacle of still needing FIA approval for everything they do internationally and in regard to licensing and safety – all run by a marketing company.
It would fall flat before they even announced a testing date.
Please do yourself a favour – go visit the FIA website and read through all their documentation. You don’t seem to understand who the FIA are or what they do.
Or why nobody has ever broken away to form a competing series.
Shutting the existing one down would only cause everyone to lose.
29th January 2023, 10:03
Wait you still think someone ”accidentally” found an archived copy from his website in 2002? It’s very clear now where things are headed.
30th January 2023, 23:04
Who said “accidentally?”
29th January 2023, 10:56
He surely must have learned something from his Americans counterparts at Liberty…
30th January 2023, 13:48
Can you list some of these Liberty gaffes?
Adrian Hancox (@ahxshades)
29th January 2023, 18:12
because “confused man shouts at clouds”
F1 frog (@f1frog)
29th January 2023, 10:50
So the question is, if you could only have one, would you prefer for the FIA or Liberty Media to be forced out of Formula 1?
For me, it would have to be Liberty. The FIA often annoy me and appear incompetent, but if Liberty had total control of Formula 1, I think they would absolutely destroy it in a sporting sense.
29th January 2023, 11:28
Ignoring reality for a moment – yep, same.
I’ll pick sporting and financial impartiality from an F1 administrator, thanks. Liberty offer neither of these traits.
Having said that – their current roles are all we have to judge them on…
The FIA isn’t marketing corporation attempting to exploit F1 financially, and Liberty Media isn’t an automotive industry representative body and sporting administrator who have to deal with most governments worldwide….
29th January 2023, 12:03
The title and first paragraph of the first story don’t match up. F1’s owner is the FIA, F1’s commercial rights holder is Liberty Media.
Either way, I keep wondering where this giant billion plus audience that makes F1 so valuable is. The viewing figures are stretched almost beyond credibility, especially when compared to the freely available and very time-efficient race highlights on YouTube. The best watched race highlights is Abu Dhabi 2021 at 21 million. Pretty much all other most viewed videos are of crashes.
Hop over to the WWE site, and you’ll find lots of videos with over 100 million views, even 200 million views. FIFA’s YouTube page – which has to compete with national broadcasters who can post highlights – has plenty of videos with more than 50 million views, though interestingly mostly of the 2018, not 2022, World Cup.
Perhaps this is influenced by my location, but F1’s public presence is still nowhere near the days of the late 1990s, early 2000s.
30th January 2023, 20:34
Does it matter at all who has the power to control F1, when any serious decision about policy or theme of the series has to be agreed by BOTH parties.
That being the case, is it worth arguing ?
Comments are closed.