The latest situation on the ownership of Formula One is this – Ecclestone will remain within his current role as Liberty Media complete their takeover of the CVC majority share.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 7, 2016
Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley is happy that CVC are gone, and it’s starting to sound as if Formula One’s ex-majority were all about taking money, without giving too much back. Fernley said,
“I think it’s fair to say I’ve been mildly critical of CVC in the past, so therefore a new partner is good,. In CVC we’ve had a corporation there that’s only been interested in extracting money.
They’ve done what they’re supposed to do as a hedge fund, which is returned money to their shareholders, and they’ve sold out now and positioned themselves. Hopefully they’ve sold to a company that can create the growth in Formula 1.
When you bring in a media group there is a obviously a vested interest there in developing the sport. It pays, then, on both sides. They will bring in a lot of experience from the American sporting franchise models and that can only be a good thing.
We’ve a unique product in Formula 1, created by Bernie [Ecclestone], along with other people who have contributed in the past – the likes of Ron Dennis, Frank Williams, Ken Tyrrell.
Then if you can overlay the expertise Liberty Media has in sports marketing, which is second to none, you’ve an exciting mix. It’s just a question of putting it together now, but the key message to get across from our side is that it’s exciting times.”
– Bob Fernley
So, the stagnation of CVC has gone to the tune of £6-8bn, the hedge fund head has been cut from the snake and out and out wealth generation has left the building. Time will tell whether F1 is just entering another episode of financial whoredom, or whether the new majority owners are fans of the actual sport. Liberty Media have inherited the $4bn debt that the sport is somehow in despite generating massive revenues. The hedge-fund predecessors have literally ran with the money, which they’re entitled to given their ownership, but F1 fans know these guys must be real shitbags.
The American sporting franchise model that Liberty Media (A name so trusting and innocent that questions of cynicism automatically arise) will bring remains to be seen. As long as a mid-race interval isn’t introduced akin to the Superbowl. Who can’t imagine Bob Fernley looking at his watch, shaking his head at half-time in the Force India garage as Beyonce does her sequin induced dance thing at the top of Eau Rouge for 45-minutes.
Let’s just wait and see how these new owners have an impact on the sport, or whether they remain as behind the scenes profit shark as CVC. The excitement of this new corporate deal is being thrown around every outlet as a big positive, a trickle down effect from a handshake between two billionaires. What’s really changed? Ecclestone stays in the hot-seat and new owners or not, a deal like this will have little effect on whether the 2017 regulations provide more overtaking next year.