Liberty facing revolt as Silverstone lead promoters ready to quit F1
A group of F1 race promoters are preparing to confront the sport's owner Liberty Media. Led by Silverstone, the race officials are angry with Liberty over the handling of their contracts, with the Daily Mail reporting that they are threatening to leave the calendar.
The newspaper said the promoters met for a meeting in London to discuss the situation.
"Everyone is disgruntled. Liberty's ideas are disjointed," said Stuart Pringle, the Silverstone boss and head of the F1 promoters' group.
This year, the race contracts of Silverstone, Monza, Barcelona, Hockenheim and Mexico all expire.
"We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto, but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now," Pringle added.
He admitted they are particularly angry about Liberty's handling of a potential race in Miami, even though a deal was not ultimately done, due to opposition from locals regarding the logistics of setting up the race in hurricane season.
In the initial discussions Miami's race fee was due to be waived and liability shared between track and Liberty, a significantly more appealing deal than the majority of other tracks receive.
"Miami are seemingly getting a free deal," said Pringle. "That has not gone down well with anyone, not least with the guys at Austin, Texas, who are working hard to make their race pay.
"If this continues, Formula One will be racing on second-rate circuits, if any at all."
Another issue has arisen around Liberty's preference for Pay-TV deals to boost revenues. Their recent switch to Sky Italia from previously free-to-air RAI saw a 53% revenue increase but viewing figures ther were down, and they have decreased steadily over the last decade as F1 signs more pay TV deals.
In a collaborative statement, the Formula One Promoters Association concluded that “it is not in the long term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting.”
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