Ferrari wants Liberty to outline its plans for F1's future

Ferrari says it wants clarity from Formula 1's new owners Liberty Media about the shape of the sport beyond 2020 if it is to commit to buying a stake.

Ferrari wants Liberty to outline its plans for F1's future
Sergio Marchionne,, Ferrari President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on the grid
Chase Carey, Formula One Group Chairman
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari testing the new 2017 Pirelli tyres
Chase Carey, Chairman of Formula One Group talks with Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull Racing Team Consultant
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H
Sergio Marchionne,, Ferrari President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H
(L to R): Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari President and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with Maurizio Arrivabene, Ferrari Team Principal
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H

Liberty is eager for current teams to buy shares in F1, because it believes their investment and having a financial interest will help drive the sport forward.

But Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said during an investors conference call on Thursday, to discuss his company's latest financial figures, that there is little reason for teams to jump on board right now.

For with F1's bilateral commercial agreements only set in stone until the end of 2020, choosing to buy into something that could be very different in five years' time was not the right thing to do.

"We have started exploring the opportunity now," said Marchionne when asked about the possibility of buying into F1. "We are in discussions with Liberty and I recently had a meeting with Chase [Carey, F1 CEO].

"The issue is not just the question of the financial investment. This is something that we do for a living in a very serious way. The Concorde Agreement expires in 2020.

"So, becoming a non-voting shareholder in an entity, which effectively keeps us trapped in without knowledge of what 2021 and later would look like, it is something I consider unwise.

"So one of the things we have tabled with Chase, and I think we're not the only ones that are tabling these concerns, is clarity on what the post-2020 world looks like and what Ferrari may be able to get from its involvement in Formula 1 activities.

"Once we have clarity, then I think it becomes a lot easier to decide whether we want to participate in this venture.

"I think that there's a huge amount of upside left in F1, which if properly managed can deliver rewards for everybody who is an investor in this business. But we need clarity and we're not there yet."

Prize money

One of the issues that Ferrari may face in the future is the loss of commercial rights income, because Liberty has already talked about the idea of a more equal distribution of money among the teams.

At the moment, Ferrari gets extra payments because of its historical contribution to F1.

Marchionne is aware of the possibility of change on this front, but knows that nothing can change before the teams' bilateral agreements run out.

"There's going to be no changes to the contractual agreements until 2020 with F1 and Ferrari," he said. "The topic has not even been brought up, and I think it will be fairly unwise to raise it as a discussion topic."

Better F1

In the shorter term, Marchionne believes that Liberty's arrival as F1's owners will be a force of good in making grand prix racing even more popular.

Asked for his expectations for 2017, he said: "What I do expect, to be honest, is the sport itself to do better in 2017. And I think there would be a great basis for us to continue and to continue our commitment to Formula 1, and to really set the basis for a post-2020 world.

"I would expect the Liberty and Chase, in particular, would have a very clear understanding of the fact of that the entertainment side of this needs to come back to play.

"I mean, we cannot keep on committing to a sport that has decreasing audiences for a variety of reasons. And so we need to re-popularise the sport and we need to make it more accessible. This all what needs to be done.

"We will do our part in this in making sure that happens."

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