F1 teams may face two years of falling prize money - Horner

Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes that teams may have to go through the pain of two years of falling prize money before they see an upswing in commercial benefit from Formula 1's new owners Liberty Media.

F1 teams may face two years of falling prize money - Horner

Liberty Media's recent revelation that the prize money pot for teams has fallen $43 million for the last quarter compared to 2016, as the result of extra spending to help make the sport more popular, caused alarm in certain sections of the paddock.

But Horner is not as worried as other teams about the situation, and is willing to give Liberty plenty more time to get a return on the investment it is making.

"You have to invest in the business to accumulate and I think Liberty has had a big learning year," he said.

"They have done a season now, they have applied the right specialists in the right areas, and they are forming their game plan for 2021.

"It is very easy to criticise on head count or spending, and it is just a different mentality to how Bernie [Ecclestone] operated. Bernie ran a very tight closed shop. He was the marketing department, he was the sales department, and it was very much a one man show.

"Obviously Liberty, having acquired the business, have put a structure in place. They are looking to put a bit more analysis in to the future as well, and there is a cost associated with that.

"Inevitably there will be an investment which will have an effect on 2018 and probably even 2019, but you would expect to see a return for sure two years down the road."

Horner is convinced that F1 is in need of a promotional boost to help attract new sponsors – and says that boring spectacles like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix do not help the sport's cause.

"To attract sponsorship you've got to have an attractive product, and unless you have got an attractive product sponsors don't come," he said. "There is a lot of cars out there.

"We have been able to attract great brands because of what we do off track as well as on track and I think F1 is not in anywhere near as rude health as it was 20 years ago when teams were making profits. There were some great brands on the cars.

"You only have to compare an end of season driver photo from 1997 to 2017 and you will see the volume of companies involved is significantly less. And we have to create a more attractive show to draw in sponsors that offer tremendous value from what F1 is."

Asked if the situation was harder now than in the wake of the global financial crisis of nearly a decade ago, Horner said: "I would say it is harder now because there is more choice as the world evolves.

"There are more platforms and the product that we have at the moment isn't fantastic. A race like [Abu Dhabi] is not the best advert for F1. We are better than that. F1 is better than that.

"Okay, it is only one chapter in 20 and there has been some great racing this year, but you have always got to learn."

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
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