F1 sends fiery letter to FIA after ‘inflated price tag’ claim

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Formula One bosses have accused FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “unacceptably” interfering with the sport’s alleged sales.

Following reports of Saudi Arabia’s $20 billion (£16.3 billion) bid to buy F1’s commercial rights, Ben Sulayem raised concerns on Twitter about the potential consequences of an “enhanced” takeover such as higher ticket prices for fans -continue if the new owners try to get it back. their investment.

He said an F1 buyer “should come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.”

Sky Sports News published on Monday his comments angered F1 chiefs and now legal chiefs have written to the FIA ​​warning that Ben Sulayem’s tweets “have been interfering with our rights in an unwarranted way appropriate”

In a letter first reported by Sky News, but also seen by Sky Sports News, F1 general counsel, Sacha Woodward Hill, and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer at Liberty Media CorporationF1’s controlling shareholder, has accused the FIA ​​- motorsport’s governing body – of going beyond its remit.

The letter was also circulated to all 10 F1 teams. Sky Sports News We contacted the FIA ​​for a response but have not received any comment.

Ben Sulayem’s comments came in response to a report last week by Bloomberg News that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund had explored a $20 billion takeover bid for the sport in 2022.

Neither F1 nor the Saudi Public Investment Fund have commented on the report.

The letter warned the FIA ​​that “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA ​​Formula One World Championship” under a 100-year contract.

“Furthermore, the FIA ​​has given clear assurances that it will do nothing to harm the ownership, management and/or exercise of these rights.

“We believe that these comments, from the official social media account of the FIA ​​president, interfere with these rights in an unacceptable way.

The response to Ben Sulayem’s comments comes at a time of heightened tension between F1 and its governing body.

The letter from Woodward Hill and Wilm also stated that the recommendation, evident in the comments of the FIA ​​president, “is that any potential customer in the Formula 1 business must consult with the wrong FIA.

He said that Ben Sulayem had a “transcendence[ped] the limits of the FIA’s remit,” states that “any person or organization that refers to the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, specifically claims or implies ownership of knowledge within while doing so, at the risk of causing significant damage to shareholders and investors there. entity, let alone exposed to adverse regulatory consequences.”

“To the extent that these comments are detrimental to the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA ​​may be liable as a result. “

Contacted by Sky News, an F1 spokesman declined to comment.

F1 teams question FIA president’s position after latest disagreement

Analysis by Craig Slater of Sky Sports News…

Ahead of the 2023 season, this is a huge rivalry at the top of the sport.

Formula 1 is owned by an American company, Liberty Media, and is a listed company. If someone of the stature of the FIA ​​president gives an opinion on what the appropriate value might be, that could be detrimental to the company.

This is just one of several issues that have plagued not only F1, but some of the teams during Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s tenure.

I have been in contact with several F1 teams, and they have had different views on what went on this week.

One senior person has said to me that there is a discussion among several teams on how long Mohammed Ben Sulayem can continue in this job.

Questions are being asked about his tenure due to the increasingly fractious (relationship) between the governing body and the commercial rights holder, and by extension the teams.

It’s a leadership style as much as anything else. It all goes back to the unhappiness, which some people in the sport have, about the arrangement by which the FIA ​​(then owned by Max Mosley) ten years ago sold the lease of the commercial rights for 100 years to an organization that was then run by him. Bernie Ecclestone to take advantage of the commercial rights.

It was felt at the time that he was leased out far too cheaply, and some see Mohammed Ben Sulayem publicly stating that he is uncomfortable with this arrangement.

This runs deep, and is a historical issue that the regulatory body and commercial rights holder must wrestle with.

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