Could F1-FIA Détente Revive Andretti’s F1 Aspirations?

Could the recently announced F1-FIA détente revive Michael Andretti’s F1 aspirations? That is just one of the topics covered in this week’s Business of Motorsport. I also cover the latest MotoGP calendar news, why the WRC is targeting America and how the Fair Use doctrine may come to the defense of Guenther Steiner. It’s all this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news that racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Michael and Mario Andretti

With an apparent “truce” agreed to by the FIA and F1, could this mean positive news for the Andretti-Cadillac F1 bid? GM has been vocal in their support of the Andretti bid and Michael Andretti is pushing for answers soon. He believes that GM’s commitment will rival that of Ferrari and Mercedes.

“We’re trying to get more communication and see what we need to do to get in. We’re going to need some answers soon. But we have some things we’re working on and hopefully, we’ll get some answers soon.”

And what about the infamous appearance by father Mario on Capitol Hill? According to Mario, it’s Red Bull’s fault. “Formula 1 had an exhibition of Red Bull at Pennsylvania Avenue, and then members of Congress knew more than I ever thought about our plight. They asked me to come there and explain why we’re not allowed here. So that was the case.”

With Liberty Media eager to expand the footprint of F1 to more countries and new venues, general director of Circuit Zandvoort Robert van Overdijk for one endorses the idea of rotating F1 races in Europe if need be. “If they come to the conclusion that there is room for Zandvoort, coupled with a rotation race, then I think we can find a fine mode in that. If they feel that Zandvoort should remain on the calendar annually, we have another conversation.”

Blinkfire Analytics had a look at the Miami Grand Prix on social media looking at Lando Norris’s win, what were the top posts and and the impact that influencers have had.

“Norris was the standout in Miami—both on the track and on social media. The McLaren driver captured attention in two of the three most engaging F1 posts from Monday, April 29, to Sunday, May 5. The third position was a post highlighting the celebrities who attended the race.”

General Motorsport Industry News

MotoGP French Grand Prix

MotoGP came off a hugely successful French Grand Prix at Le Mans with a record-breaking crowd of 297,471 fans present at Le Mans Circuit, showing to other promoters how a race should be run.

PHA CEO Claude Michy, promoter of the French Grand Prix: “I work hard to make sure there is a partner for every service we provide. In my mind, this is not just a race, but a great festival, a dream fulfilled on and off the circuit.”

While the French Grand Prix was a huge success, there are rumblings that the Indian Grand Prix may be in jeopardy after only one year of existence. Event organizers have come out to deny the speculation according to The Race.

Race promoter Fairstreets Sports CEO Pushkar Nath Srivastava has meanwhile spoken out in an attempt to ease concerns, telling Indian news agency PTI that any outstanding issues will be sorted once the elections are conducted, with ruling party BJP expected to retain power.

“The race is very much on,” Srivastava insisted. “These are just rumours floating around. All of the contractual obligations will be met in June.”

Is India’s MotoGP 2024 date really in jeopardy?

While a TV deal for IndyCar is getting closer and ratings are solid, the latest charter proposal to the teams is about ready to be revealed according to Racer. “Although the Penske Entertainment representative said nothing should be considered final until the upcoming charter presentation is made, they did say the current plan is for the 25 charters to come at no cost.”

The World Rally Championship Promoter has delivered its promotional strategy plan to key stakeholders which features a “clear road map” to include the USA on the 2026 calendar. Key elements presented by the WRC Promoter were:

  • A clear roadmap to a USA event in 2026 that includes direct investment and involvement in event promotion from WRC Promoter.
  • WRC Promoter will aim to increase attendance at WRC events through developing the on-site fan experience.
  • A clear activation plan with a variety of direct actions and investments in social and digital media.

While IMSA boss John Doonan is excited on how the series has become such a strong platform for the automotive industry, TV ratings are lagging despite an increase in fans attending the races. “Endurance races are our DNA, it’s who we are,” said David Pettit, the senior vice president of marketing and business operations for IMSA. He said IMSA is generating momentum by using the “backbone of linear TV that is driving a process that is building momentum for us.”

Motorsport Week sat down with More Than Equal Board Member and Strategic Advisor Kate Beavan. Beavan boasts over 20 years of experience in F1’s legal, licensing and GSR projects and is the perfect person to help More Than Equal navigate what is a male-dominated arena.

“I remember having a conversation with the BBC and saying to them, ‘well, you know, you didn’t cover women’s sport, you didn’t show any women’s sport, and they said, ‘well, because we didn’t think anyone would watch it.’ And I was like, ‘well, they’re watching it now.’ So it’s a little bit of chicken and egg, isn’t it? You need people to believe in it and invest in it and cover it and then it will help it rise in popularity and all the good commercial stuff that comes from that.”

Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week

Dirt Late Model Racing

Motorsport Law Roundup

A look at some of the legal and regulatory issues and analysis in Motorsport this week

Business of Motorsport for March 18, 2022-Google Goes F1

In an interesting bit of timing, the Haas F1 team is suing former Team Principal Guenther Steiner over photos featured in his 2023 book “Surviving to Drive” alleging that they infringe on the company’s trademarks, not long after Steiner himself sued the team for breach of his employment contract. According to an analysis by law firm Miller Canfield in JD Supra, part of the argument in Steiner’s favor is the defense of Fair Use.

Even if a likelihood of confusion is found, however, Steiner’s use of Haas’ trademarks may very well be considered fair use. Fair use permits a person to use the trademark of another when referencing the other’s goods and services. New Kids on the Block v. News Am. Publ’g, Inc., 971 F.2d 302, 308 (9th Cir. 1992). Several factors are considered when determining whether fair use is a defense to trademark infringement: whether the product or service is readily identifiable without use of the trademark, if only as much of the mark as necessary is used to identify the product or service, and whether the use suggests sponsorship or endorsement by the trademark holder. Id. Because the relationship between Haas Automation and Haas F1 Team is that of the title sponsor, the prominent placement of photographs where the trademark is a primary element (and not simply one of many logos on an item of clothing worn by the photo’s subject) might be found to suggest a similar sponsorship or endorsement.

F1 Team Sues Former Principal Over Personal Photographs Displaying Team Trademarks in Memoir (JD Supra)

A protest by Ferrari against the result of last Saturday’s Spa 6 Hours round of the World Endurance Championship has been rejected.

The decision to resume the Spa 6 Hours was unusual if not unprecedented in the history of the WEC since its rebirth in 2012, but was allowed under the series sporting regulations.

They state: “If the circumstances so require the stewards may take the decision to stop and/or modify the race time set. This may not exceed the time of the competition [meaning six hours].”

“Cutting the race session short would mean that some competitors would gain, and others would lose as a result.”

Ferrari protest into WEC Spa result rejected (Autosport)

Hitech GP have announced that they will be appealing the FIA decision to ban their driver Martinius Stenshorne from competing in the FIA F3 rounds at Silverstone and Spa due to Stenshorne having competed in a round of the GB3 Championship at Silverstone on 25-26 April. Participation in the GB3 race according to the FIA was viewed as a breach of the strict sporting regulations as it would give him a “sporting advantage” when F3 heads to the British venue in July.

A statement from Hitech GP read in part: “The imposed penalty is extremely strong compared to similar infringements. Hitech confirms it has officially appealed the decision.”

LawInSport has published an informative and comprehensive article by John Mehrzad KC FCIArb of Fountain Court Chambers, who sets out an updated top 10 tips for conducting an independent review in sport.

“At the outset, it must be stressed that an independent review is not an internal investigation. A review’s purpose is to consider contributions, in oral or paper form, and documents to build a factual picture in order to inform the review panellists of issues that need be addressed by way of suggested recommendations in a final review report. A review is, therefore, primarily a forward-looking process. An internal investigation, on the other hand, is usually an initial step as part of a disciplinary, grievance, whistleblowing or safeguarding procedure, which may lead to disciplinary or similar action. Of course, as part of a review process, investigations need though to be carried out.”

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week

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Team & Manufacturer News

Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport

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Could F1-FIA Détente Revive Andretti's F1 Aspirations?
Business of Motorsport
Could F1-FIA Détente Revive Andretti's F1 Aspirations?

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.