There are still six weeks before Max Verstappen and associates will accelerate again in Bahrain. But there is no lack of stories. The bosses of the Formula 1 circus are furious now that Mohammed Ben Sulayem has brutally taken the owners’ seat. After hearing rumors of a billion-dollar offer from the Saudis, who are reportedly keen to take over Formula 1 for the astronomical sum of $20 billion according to Bloomberg news agency, the FIA president thought it would be a good idea to use his personal Twitter account to inform the Saudis. to get out of the tent right away.
Ben Sulayem tweets
Get rid of that bag of money, he already shouted, while the offer has not even been officially confirmed. “As the guardian of motorsport, the FIA is cautious about perceived high price tags being placed on F1,” Ben Sulayem said on Twitter. “Every potential buyer is advised to use common sense, to come up with a clear, sustainable plan. Not just with a lot of money.” Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s tweets caused quite a stir.
Strikingly outspoken lyrics from the man who earlier this winter also openly expressed his support for Michael Andretti’s attempt to join Cadillac as the eleventh team on the grid. There is very little enthusiasm for this among the current ten teams, since prize money and TV money then have to be shared with an extra party.
All grist to the mill for skeptics who like to emphasize that the relationship between the regulatory body – the FIA – and the commercial rights holders has always been one of tension, ever since the FIA deliberately decided to separate commercial and regulatory activities early this century for the benefit of the next 100 years. Since then, the FIA has been primarily concerned with the sporting value of the sport, where F1 is mainly an investment for American owner Liberty Media (and previously Bernie Ecclestone) that should generate as much money and commercial value as possible.
Britain’s Sky Sports and the BBC reported on Tuesday that F1 and Liberty’s lawyers have sent a joint urgent letter to the FIA’s World Motor Sports Council, in which they argue that the president has gone out of his way with his latest statements. Indeed, the FIA has promised in the past that they will not jeopardize the ownership, management and exploitation of the commercial rights. We believe the comments violate the rights of the sport in an unacceptable way. “We believe the comments violate the rights of the sport in an unacceptable way,” Sky said in a statement. “Any person or organization commenting on the value of a publicly traded entity or its subsidiaries, particularly by claiming or implying insider information, risks causing significant harm to the shareholders and investors of that entity. ”
Troubles in motorsport paradise
With the letter, the Formula 1 bosses show that they are fed up with the steering and manipulative behavior of the chatty Ben Sulayem, who, as FIA president, is very outspoken on social media. While predecessor Jean Todt mainly shared photos of his many working visits and wholesaled unexciting statements, the vain Ben Sulayem, already in his first year, does not take it so closely with confidential conversations and is not averse to expressing his own opinion.
Take the FIA gala, where he recently caused some awkward moments by revisiting budget cap gate and fiddling with World Cup points in the championship race in Japan. Or, according to him, the process of attracting new teams is far too slow. His complaining about the lack of support in the paddock for Andretti and Cadillac. And now he is taking the owner’s seat after news of a takeover bid, with statements that could possibly be harmful to the (commercial value of) Formula 1. Reason for F1 and Liberty to now wave a symbolic red card, which will undoubtedly not make things any better. Six weeks before the engines start roaring again in Bahrain and the sport is already on fire. That promises something for the longest season ever.