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More on F1 Ownership

Further to my recent post on Who Owns Formula One? and the clarifying comments by Mark Higgins, it now appears that CVC may be regretting their purchase. The ongoing dispute between the FIA and the GPMA (the F1 manufacturers association) over implementation of the engine freeze is making the future of F1 unsure and this impacts upon CVC’s ability to predict revenues from the sport. According to Update-F1, CVC has told the manufacturers to end the dispute.

This is interesting in view of the fact that the FIA announced yesterday that agreement on the issue had been reached. Today F1-live dot com reports that a spokesman for the GPMA, Xander Heijnen, has denied that any agreement has been achieved as yet.


Pardon my cynicism but this seems fairly typical of the way F1 is administered; contradictory statements, unnecessary disputes and rigid refusal to compromise have been the norm for over thirty years. What surprises me is that CVC do not appear to have known this before they ever became involved. If they had done their homework before investing such huge sums in purchasing F1, they would have realized that it is a sport in constant turmoil where nothing is written in stone except that “change is here to stay”.

It is hard to feel any sympathy for CVC; they have bought their bed and must lie in it. But I must thank them for highlighting an aspect of F1 that is extremely irritating for the fans and the teams: the arbitrary decision-making of the FIA and its lack of effective consultation with those who have to abide by the rules.

Of course, the GPMA must accept its share of the blame too. Their inability to present a united front has not helped at all in this situation. I cannot see that the judicious use of compromise could not have brought about consensus between the manufacturers. When dealing with the FIA, you need unanimity or you’ll get nowhere.

Sometimes I wonder how F1 manages to remain the pinnacle of motor sport. Uncertainty is hardly a good basis for management of such an important sport. Can anyone else remember way back when the rules used to stay the same for year after year?

It would have been nice to add a picture of the F1 logo to this post (it’s a clever design, I think) but CVC would probably come after me demanding money if I did that. So I found a pic of what it’s really all about instead – F1 cars racing at Monaco.

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Who Owns Formula One?

One of the latest news items is that CVC has sold MotoGP (for a mere $626 million) so that it can own Formula One. This has been announced without fuss on several networks but it raises all sorts of questions in my mind.

For a start, I didn’t even know that it was possible for F1 to be owned (or MotoGP for that matter). But apparently everyone else has known this for ages – at least, no-one seems surprised by the news.

And what exactly is being owned? F1 Racing-Live says that “CVC’s control of formula one is now official” but what the heck does that mean? It cannot be that they are in charge of the rules and regulations – the FIA does that. And the circuits are owned by various concerns around the world, as are the teams. Bernie Ecclestone sells the television rights to a media company every year so maybe this is what they’re talking about.


Bernie Ecclestone

I googled CVC to find out more about the company. There are a few possibles but the leading contender would appear to be an American Cablevision System; which would fit with the theory that it’s the television rights that are being owned. But it’s only a theory – I’m guessing here.

And how much sense does it make that the owner of the television rights can sell them to anyone they choose, as appears to have happened with MotoGP? Wouldn’t that make a mockery of Bernie’s careful choice in the first place? Or am I being too trusting and all the FIA really care about is how much they can sell the rights for?

I find the whole business rather unsettling. To discover that one’s favorite sport is actually owned and “controlled” by a multi-million dollar and faceless corporation is a bit of a shock. In fact, it has uncomfortable undertones of F1 not being a sport at all but rather some sort of marketing exercise designed to lull the masses to sleep while their pockets are picked. And the masses means you and me, buddy. Oh, brave new world.

As the saying goes, I only ask because I want to know. If anyone out there does actually understand what this is all about, I’d be very grateful if they’d clue me in.


Update on Microsoft to Enter Formula One?:

It’s true. If Scoble says it is, it must be.

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