Formula One (F1) officials have sent a warning to the sport’s regulator, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), over a claim that F1 is not worth $20bn. Sacha Woodward Hill, F1’s legal chief, and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media Corporation (F1’s controlling shareholder), have written a letter to FIA accusing them of straying beyond their remit.
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The letter argues that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem interfered with F1’s commercial rights in an unacceptable manner when he referred to an “alleged inflated price tag of $20bn” being placed on the sport. The letter warns FIA that F1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship under a 100-year deal.
The letter also states that FIA has given undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. The letter claims that the comments made by FIA President on social media interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.
The letter also claims that the suggestion implicit in the FIA President’s remarks that any potential purchaser of the Formula 1 business is required to consult with the FIA is wrong. The letter also states that FIA may be liable if any comments made by the FIA President damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation.
The letter concludes with a warning that F1 hopes “it will not be necessary to address this issue again” in the future. It is a significant development in the ongoing tensions between F1 and its governing body, which have escalated in the past year since Ben Sulayem assumed the presidency. Neither F1 nor the FIA are commenting officially on the matter.