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Liberty says traditional European races key to F1 future

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Liberty says traditional European races key to F1 future
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Mar 12, 2017, 4:49 PM

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media insists traditional European races are key to its plans for the future, citing the revival of the French Grand Prix as an example.

The return to Paul Ricard in 2018 was one of the last major deals signed by Bernie Ecclestone, but Liberty says the race is proof that it wants the likes of Britain and Germany to stay on the schedule.

Although the latter is missing from the 2017 calendar, Hockenheim has a contract to host a race next year.

"There are always tracks that go in and out," said Liberty President and CEO Greg Maffei. "It is most negative when you have some of our traditional Western European tracks which are at the heart of the fan base, like in Germany, go out.

"But there's already progress to bring them back, and if you recall we added the Ricard track in France, another place where we've been gone for some years.

"The origin of F1 is in France and England, so we're big believers in making sure places like Silverstone and the French track and the German are on the race calendars and are exciting events, which are beneficial to all the players."

Maffei also stressed that older venues can learn from the success of newer races that have a reputation for putting on a good show around the event.

"One of the things we need to do is make the races more compelling and exciting and more beneficial to promoters," he said.

"Take best practices, what worked in exciting races like Mexico City, like Singapore, like Abu Dhabi, bring those best practices across the globe to traditional tracks, which may not have had either as much financing capability, but also just don't have as exciting a product at the moment."

No doubts over calendar expansion

Maffei says that adding more races to the F1 calendar will not create the sort of issues that many observers believe NASCAR has suffered from due to overexposure.

"The nature of our 21 events in 21 countries suggests far less opportunity for fatigue and overwhelming viewers and overwhelming ticket buyers in any one region, because it's not available on that kind of frequency.

"Our positioning in the market place is probably less to the middle-income buyer and more to the high-income, but we do want to broaden that.

"We sit on the top of a the pyramid, a very affluent customer base, with opportunities to expand that.

"But our reach doesn't need to be as deep into the customer buying public as a sport that is as broad in the United States as NASCAR."

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Series Formula 1
Author Adam Cooper