Formula 1 bosses have accused FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “unacceptable” interference in the alleged sale of the sport.
Following reports of Saudi Arabia’s bid to buy F1’s $20bn (£16.3bn) commercial rights, Ben Sulayem tweeted concerns about the potential impact of an ‘inflated’ takeover, such as higher ticket prices for fans if the new owners will try to win back. their investment.
He added that a potential F1 buyer should “come in with a clear, sustainable plan, not just a lot of money.”
Sky Sports News It was revealed on Monday that his remarks had angered senior F1 officials, and now the legal bosses have written to the FIA warning that Ben Sulayem’s tweets have “infringed upon our rights in an unacceptable manner.”
In a letter first communicated heavenly news, but also saw sky Sports News, Formula One General Counsel Sasha Woodward Hill and René Wilm, Chief Legal and Administrative Officer Liberty Media Corporationthe controlling shareholder of F1, accused the FIA - the governing body of motorsports – of going beyond its powers.
The letter was also sent to all 10 F1 teams. Sky Sports News contacted the FIA for a response but received no comment.
Ben Sulayem’s comments came in response to a post last week Bloomberg News that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has explored a $20 billion sports takeover bid in 2022.
Neither F1 nor the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund commented on the report.
The FIA letter warned that “Formula One has the exclusive right to use the commercial rights to the FIA Formula One World Championship” as part of a 100-year agreement.
“In addition, the FIA has made an unequivocal undertaking that it will not do anything that would prejudice the possession, management and/or exercise of these rights.
“We believe that these comments, made from the official social media account of the FIA President, violate these rights in an unacceptable way.”
The response to Ben Sulayem’s comments comes at a time of heightened tensions between F1 and its governing body.
Woodward Hill and Wilm’s letter also states that the suggestion implicit in the FIA President’s remarks “that any prospective buyer of the Formula One business should consult the FIA is incorrect”.
He added that Ben Sulayem “stepped over[ped] limits of the FIA’s purview”, stating that “any person or entity commenting on the value of a listed company or its subsidiaries, especially those claiming or implying possession of insider information in doing so, risks causing substantial harm to the shareholders and investors of that legal entity, not to mention potential exposure to severe regulatory impacts.”
“To the extent that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”
Contacted heavenly news, An F1 spokesperson declined to comment.
F1 teams question FIA president position after latest controversy
Analysis by Craig Slater of Sky Sports News…
Ahead of the 2023 season, it’s a big conflict at the top of the sport.
Formula 1 is owned by the American company Liberty Media and is a registered company. If someone with the position of FIA president makes a remark about what a potentially suitable value is, it could be commercially damaging to the company.
This is just one of the many problems that, throughout Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s tenure, irritated not only F1, but also some teams.
I contacted several F1 teams and they had different opinions about what happened this week.
A senior official told me that there was a discussion going on in several teams about how long Mohammed Ben Sulayem could stay in this position.
Questions are being asked about his tenure, due to increasingly strained relations between the governing body and the commercial rights holder and, as a result, between the teams.
This is a leadership style more than anything else. This all goes back to the concern of some people in the sport about the arrangement whereby the FIA (then led by Max Mosley) sold the commercial rights on a 100 year loan to the then-run Bernie Ecclestone organization more than a decade ago to use the commercial rights.
At the time, it was thought to have been rented out too cheaply, and some people see Mohammed Ben Sulayem publicly making it clear that he doesn’t like the arrangement.
This is quite deeply rooted, and it is a historical issue that the governing body and the owner of the commercial rights have to contend with.