It was a week of bombshell news in motorsport as F1 formally rejected the Andretti-Cadillac F1 bid, while Lewis Hamilton has made a shock move to Ferrari for the 2025 season.
In other Business of Motorsport news, NASCAR hopes that their new Netflix series will bring in new fans, MotoGP loses its Argentinian race, IMSA hopes to capitalize on their positive momentum and a Grand Prix in Zanzibar?
All this plus the latest motorsport law news including a look at the legal implications of the rejected Andretti F1 bid and much more in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects.
Motorsport Industry News
The week started with positive news of Andretti Global quietly going about their business preparing for a place on the 2025 F1 grid from four different locations. Indeed even a photo of a scale tunnel model of their proposed chassis was released amid rumors of Otmar Szafnauer and other staff being recruited to the team. But then the news dropped on Wednesday that F1 had rejected Andretti’s bid.
I will look at some of the legal issues in the Motorsport Law Roundup below but a few things to keep in mind.
- There is no inherent right of anybody being granted what is essentially a franchise in F1, no matter how storied your name is.
- The appearance of F1 being a closed shop is going to raise the eyebrows of EU regulators perhaps prompting an investigation.
- Technically, since the FIA has given Andretti’s bid the green light, they could compete although without a commercial agreement in place with FOM. This though may violate the Concord Agreement.
- There will be lawyers. What jurisdiction any legal action might be in is currently unclear. Liberty is based in the United States and the FIA is based in France. Technically Andretti’s beef would be with Liberty and not the FIA since they approved their bid.
Below is a selection of the coverage so far and it will only grow as the days go on. It’s important to recognize that modern sports often involve two contrasting viewpoints: the desires of the fans versus the objectives of the business. These perspectives frequently collide, presenting a notable tension within the sports industry.
- F1 rejects Andretti entry for now, but door open for 2028 (Autosport)
- F1 says No to Andretti (Joe Saward)
- F1 turns down Andretti for 2026, door open for 2028 (Racer)
- Full statement: F1’s decision to reject Andretti’s entry bid for 2025 (Autosport)
- Andretti “strongly disagrees” with F1 statement on rejected entry (Autosport)
- The three key factors that led F1 to turn down Andretti (Autosport)
- Our verdict on F1’s firm snub of Andretti’s new-team bid (The Race)
- F1’s anti-Andretti rationale is flawed and telling (The Race)
- Andretti still working on F1 car, doesn’t accept rejection (The Race)
- The damning reasons why F1 turned down Andretti’s entry bid – for now (Racing News 365)
- F1 Rejects Andretti Team Application for Ridiculous Reasons (The Drive)
- Why Formula 1 Said No to Michael Andretti’s Bid to Join F1 Grid (AutoWeek)
- What does F1’s decision really mean for Andretti? (Racer)
- Formula 1 Rejects Michael Andretti’s Bid For A Team In 2025 (Forbes)
- Steiner: F1 protecting Andretti from itself by refusing entry (Racing News 365)
- FIA breaks silence after Andretti rejection from F1 (Racing News 365)
Liberty Media has been named the most valuable sports empire by Forbes in their 2024 World’s Valuable Sports Empires list.
“Another smart way to monetize sports empires is to build them up big and then slim them down. Take Liberty Media, for instance, whose most valuable sports property is Formula 1 auto racing. The aggregate value of Liberty’s ownership stakes in its sports assets fell 12%, to $18.2 billion but it still maintains the top spot on our list. Liberty, declined in value this year because it spun off the Atlanta Braves (current enterprise value: $2.6 billion) last July. Betting with Liberty’s longtime chairman, John Malone, would have been a smart move. Had an investor purchased shares of the Braves when they were offered as a tracking stock in 2016, the value of the stock would be up 131%—versus 118% for the S&P 500 over the same period.”
“Having closed Wednesday’s trading with a share price of $346.78, after the opening on Thursday it rocketed to a high of $384.00 soon after, and is anticipated to go even higher over the course of the day. This gives Ferrari an estimated market capitalisation of $69.12 billion – which is well up on the $62.4 billion that it was worth at close of trading on Wednesday.”
Alex Kalinauckas in Autosport Plus explains why the recent AlphaTauri name change should alarm F1. “But these things are happening because the short-term drive for cash is so important. That’s not new and ultimately it’s a fact of life. But in these instances, it comes with a risk of alienating long-term motorsport fans. Some are already very disillusioned and, because there’s no guarantee of another Drive to Survive or pandemic escape boom coming, that is a problem in the longer term.”
With the recent announcement that the Spanish Grand Prix is moving from Barcelona to Madrid in 2026, a number of other rumors about new Grand Prix (and returning old ones) popped up last week. Here are the ones I am familiar with.
- The organizers of Barcelona’s Formula 1 race are confident a €50m renovation plan can help the event stay on the calendar beyond 2026 despite the Spanish Grand Prix’s move to Madrid.
- There was a flurry of excitement when it was discovered that F1 had registered a number of trademarks for a Chicago Grand Prix but Chicago officials put that rumor to rest pretty quick. “I’m told that F1 typically requires a 10-year minimum deal. And that appears to be non-negotiable. The conversation [with the city] did not get much past that,” said Alderman Brian Hopkins.
- Malaysia’s state oil company Petronas, which is also the title sponsor of the Mercedes Formula 1 team, is attempting to bring the Malaysian Grand Prix back to the calendar according to Reuters. The report stated that the plan to bring the race back to the calendar was revealed during a town hall meeting led by Petronas CEO Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengu Aziz.
- Finally, in one of the more exotic proposed races, ex-Formula 1 race winner Giancarlo Fisichella is supervising the technical aspects of a proposed F1 circuit in Zanzibar, as the Tanzanian archipelago seeks to bring the series to its shores. “Situated off of the East Coast of Africa, Zanzibar and its associated Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) granted a €500 million injection of funds to the GP project in May 2023. And on November 28 of last year, the Executive Director of ZIPA agreed on an allocation of a 2.5 Km2 area of land on the southwest portion of the island.”
General Motorsport Industry News
NASCAR is hoping that their new Netflix series “Full Speed” (see trailer above) will increase their fan base in 2024.
“This genre of these real-time follow documentaries, particularly on Netflix, has been flourishing for the last several years,” Cohen, who’s won 31 Emmys, said. “It felt like Nascar was the perfect place for it. It’s such a great sport that has such a rabid hardcore fan base, and there’s a whole group of casual fans. That’s the goal of the show: to serve all of those populations.”
In other NASCAR news, the series has stated how they are “closer than its ever been” to an international Cup race.
NASCAR vice president and chief international officer Chad Seigler told Autosport: “For years we said we want to go outside the US and race, and you’ve seen us move from the messaging of it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. “I would tell you that we’re leaning even closer now to, ‘Yes, we are going.’ I feel confident we’re going to be there sooner than later.”
In Formula E news, Porsche would not be surprised if one of the German manufacturers that left the series comes back according to The Race.
“One thing I know for sure, there are many OEMs who know that, if they want to use motorsport as a tool for their brands, they have to take care of electrification because it’s the main route on public roads. Just taking the fact that, right now, there is no other full electric series on this planet on the level of Formula E. Just taking these two aspects, I would think one of the other [German OEMs] will consider coming back, yes.”
“With increased interest, coupled with the ability to stretch into road courses with fast charging, the idea of going to a second race in the U.S. continues to gain steam. As I reported last year, Los Angeles was being looked at as one possibility although nothing is imminent for 2025 early in the year.” (Forbes)
MotoGP has had to revise its 2024 calendar as the Argentinian round has been cancelled.
“The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports confirm the cancellation of the 2024 Argentina GP,” a statement read. “Due to the current circumstances in Argentina, the promoter of the event has communicated that it is currently unable to guarantee the services required for the Grand Prix to take place in 2024 at MotoGP standards. This event will not be replaced on the 2024 calendar. MotoGP hopes to return to race at Termas de Rio Hondo in 2025.”
After accepting the Austin Hatcher Foundation’s Impact Award and revealing the 2024 IMSA Hall of Fame class on Saturday morning, IMSA President John Doonan spent time discussing the present and future of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with the media and the positive momentum that the series is experiencing.
“The crowds at Daytona were huge, with attendance records set for both the Roar and the Rolex 24. On the ground, it felt like it. The infield campsites were bursting with life and the paddock was packed day and night with enthusiasts. The drive to make IMSA accessible for fans and improve the on-site experience is paying off massively.”
Jonathan Ingram of AutoWeek has some ideas on how IMSA can build on this positive momentum. “Judging by the success of the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the combination of cars and drivers brought an impressive crowd to the France family’s Speedway by the Sea, it could be a big year for the WeatherTech Championship.”
IndyCar is pursuing a rights fee increase ahead of its next broadcast renewal. “The tailwind is a resurgence in interest across motorsports. Now with that said, back to expectations, what do Roger Penske and Mark Miles think they’re going to get? … Looking to double [the current US$20 million annual rate], that’s not going to happen in this environment.”
MotorSport Vision (MSV) has unveiled an extensive, multi-million Euro redevelopment program for its Circuito de Navarra facility in northern Spain, which will be completed during 2024. Headline changes include major improvements to the circuit layout itself, substantial resurfacing work which will also remove the bumps, runoff upgrades and a general advancement of the venue’s safety features.
Despite the growth of motorsport in the Middle East, Roland Dane in Speed Cafe explains how it would be a mistake for Supercars to attempt any kind of expansion to the region.
“And that’s where the RACE guys don’t appear to understand the Middle Eastern market when they float ideas of taking Supercars over there. To make Supercars work in any location, let alone overseas, ultimately it has to generate a paying crowd. That’s the only route to a sustainable event. And that’s what went wrong each time Supercars went outside Australasia in the past, whether that was in the Middle East, China or the USA. Let’s be frank, nobody turned up.”
Rally USA is targeting a spot on the World Rally Championship calendar in 2026 after organizers confirmed plans to hold more demonstration events this year. “The USA will not be ready for 2025, 100%,” said WRC event director Simon Larkin.
Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week
- Michael Printup Named COO of Parella Motorsports Holdings (PRI)
- Capito, Laheta join Nitrocross executive team (Racer)
- Skip Barber Racing School Opens New Corporate Headquarters (Skip Barber)
- Not Your Boyfriend’s Fantasy League (Formula Flash)
- Autosport International 2024: A Fusion of Classic Thrills and Future Visions (Pitlane News)
- Newcastle startup Grid Finder acquired in 7-figure deal (Business Cloud)
- A Journey into the Future of Sports Revenue (Playbk Sports)
Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News
Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week.
- Shamir renews successful partnership with BWT Alpine F1 Team (Alpine)
- Valkyrie AI – established leader in AI and Machine Learning – will continue its successful partnership with United Autosports for a third consecutive year in 2024 (United Autosports)
- ‘As F1 expanded in the US, our interest in sponsoring a team peaked’ | Jeff Mahony, NEFT Vodka (Sport Business Sponsorship)
- Extreme E announces Greenberg Traurig as Official Legal Services Provider (Extreme E)
- Formula E to create licensed karting venues across Saudi Arabia (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Aston Martin secures F1 supply deal with OMP (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Tech 3 reveals new look as it welcomes back Red Bull as title partner (Motorsport Week)
- Ford Performance and Sparco continue partnership in Mustang GT3 factory race program (PMW Magazine)
- MOZA Racing gears up with Motorsport Australia (Motorsport Australia)
- Rokit To Continue as Title Sponsor For 2024 Rokit British F4 Championship (British F4)
- Ferrari finalise Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% deal (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Conflicting reports on Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari talks after sponsor pulls out (Planet F1)
- TRD USA, Mobil 1 Expand Relationship Beginning With 2024 Motorsports Season (Business Wire)
- Sligo Pallets Announce 2-Year Sponsorship of Forest Rally Championship (Motorsport Ireland)
- Extreme E partners with Eutelsat Group and OmniAccess (Extreme E)
- Breaking New Ground: H. Moser & Cie. Emerges as Alpine Motorsports’ First-Ever Global Partner, Enveloping the Entire Alpine brand Spectrum (Alpine)
- Abercrombie Announces Official Partnership With McLaren Racing, Features Race Car in Fifth Avenue Store (Business Insider)
- Visa becomes AlphaTauri title partner in first new global sponsorship for 15 years (SportsPro Media)
Team & Manufacturer News
Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport.
- Trackhouse Racing – 2024 is GO! (MotoGP)
- Dixon wary of impact of Ganassi IndyCar expansion (Speed Cafe)
- The 24 before the 24: How teams get ready to roll at the Rolex (Racer)
- Sun Minimeal team join Extreme E ahead of 2024 season (BlackBook Motorsport)
- Aston Martin Targeting Second Quarter Rollout for Valkyrie LMH (Sportscar365)
- Aston Martin will not have to build road cars for Valkyrie LMH homologation (Motorsport Week)
- Permane, Goss among latest Visa Cash App RB hires (Racer)
- RFK Racing launches RFK TeK Alliance technology division (Sports Business Journal)
- Renauer Motorsport and AS Motorsport commit to 2024 F4 CEZ season (Formula Scout)
- Australian Formula Ford champions pull out (Auto Action)
- Long-Time Motorsports Executive Mike Verlander Named Chief Operating Officer of Richard Childress Racing (RCR)
- Inside the racing university moulding F1 drivers and engineers alike (Autosport Plus)
- Manthey EMA to field two Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Bathurst 12 Hour (Endurance Info)
- Tufflift Racing expands to two cars for 2024 TCR Australia (PMW Magazine)
- Marciello remains in British GT as RAM switches to BMW (Autosport)
- Thaze to Rejoin for Remainder of Season with Green, Miller (Sportscar365)
- What’s happened to McLaren’s ‘giant’ manufacturer links? (The Race)
- Ford Says It ‘Learned’ From Porsche’s Strategy in Making Mustang Its Racing Flagship (The Drive)
- AF Corse: Third 499P Effort ‘Separate Entity’ to Factory Cars (Sportscar365)
Motorsport Law Roundup
I am still digesting the coverage and implications of the rejected Andretti F1 bid but one quote that stuck out to me is from Mark Hughes in The Race. Discussing the potential legal implications of the decision, he feels that there could be some legal push-back and we know the law is trending against monopolistic behavior, even in sports.
“It lists all the reasons why not, but the most crucial one is it does not see Andretti joining bringing a net financial benefit to F1. In other words, F1’s income would be divided among the teams by 11 rather than 10 without it attracting the additional income for F1 to compensate for the smaller share. It’s difficult to read this any way other way than F1 declaring itself a closed shop to anyone other than automotive manufacturers.”
This I believe is the major issue in the Andretti F1 rejection and I would not be surprised if the European Commission took a closer look at this. According to Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, Liberty “can’t simply reject” Andretti.
In 2000, the Commission investigated Formula 1 for alleged breaches of European competition law – which at the time centered mainly around the way broadcasting rights were sold.
The Commission found that F1 needed to make changes to ensure fairness and competition, prompting the creation of ‘Article 2’ – which may now prevent Liberty Media from blocking Andretti’s participation on grounds other than safety.
But even if Liberty Media follows through with a prohibitive new Concorde Agreement that locks Andretti out, F1 might still fall foul of the European Commission rules.
Those rules say Liberty cannot abuse its dominant position to prevent fair competition within Formula 1.The EU will force F1 to open door to Andretti-Cadillac
On the American side of things, since Liberty Media is an American corporation, will Liberty fall afoul of the Sherman Antitrust Law promoting fair competition, especially in light of the recent trend against “monopolistic” behavior, even in sports?
There could be many years of potential legal squabbles that arise out of this all the while discouraging any potential new entrants to the sport. That result should be concerning to both the FIA and Liberty’s shareholders. The current market conditions will most probably not be as hot as they are now and there may come a time when F1 needs to attract new teams but they will have scared them all away.
Alternately, litigation now may in fact clarify the actual conditions needed for new teams to enter F1, something that is clearly needed when the regulator and commercial rights holder cannot seem to agree on who can be admitted and how.
It is clear to me that there will be lawyers dealing with this unless an agreement between Andretti, the FIA and Liberty can be reached (guaranteed entry in 2028?). It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
The FIA International Court of Appeal (ICA) has released its decision in the International GT Open International Championship appeal of the results brought by Optimum Motorsport. One of the lawyers appearing on behalf of the Appellant, Optimum Motorsport was Ms Sarah Franklin who wrote a column on the life of a motorsport lawyer for Motorsport Prospects here. The conclusions of the ICA could have particular relevance to the case Felipe Massa is pursuing with respect to having the results of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix canceled.
The circumstances of the case are as follows. One of the competitors, Team Motopark (“the Protester”), lodged a protest before the Stewards based on the fact that the restart after the second Safety Car period took place in the wrong order. According to the Protester, this situation penalized the cars that were placed between the Safety Car and the leader of the Race.
The Stewards, after having heard the Protester, the Race Director and the Chief Timekeeper, issued their decision whereby the Protester’s request either to amend the classification or to cancel the results of the Race was rejected.
The Protester notified its intention to appeal the Stewards’ Decision and then confirmed
its appeal before the National Court of Appeal of the RFEdA. The NCA heard the Protester on 4 October 2023 and rendered its Decision No. 2 by which it cancelled the Stewards’ Decision as well as the Race, and therefore its classification.
The appellant Optimum Motorsport appealed the decision of the NCA by which it canceled the Stewards decision claiming that the NCA acted outside of its power by cancelling the Race and the ICA agreed.
As part of the findings, the ICA stated the following which will be of particular interest to the Felipe Massa case:
“The Court indeed finds that this power of the ICA must be used under very restrictive
circumstances, given its specificity within the judicial framework of the FIA and its
impact on a competition. In that context, the principle of “sporting fairness” anchored
under Article 1.1.1 of the Code, which describes this principle as “fundamental”, must be central in the decision of the Court. As a consequence, the fundamental principle of sporting fairness must be considered as one of the cornerstones of any action taken by the FIA, its internal organs or any legal entity subject to the Code.”
Can the Singapore Grand Prix be cancelled in light of the principal of “sporting fairness” as stated by the court? Or would simply excluding the results of the Renault F1 team from the race results be the best approach to “sporting fairness”? It will be interesting to see how this all factors into the Massa case.
Speaking of the Massa case, Felipe Massa’s former race engineer Rob Smedley has admitted that while the Brazilian’s “compelling” legal case for the 2008 Formula 1 title is “meaningless” to him, the outcome could set a precedent for wider sporting injustices.
“What I will say is this is something that Felipe feels strongly about. It’s no secret that Felipe is a really good pal of mine, he’s like a little brother to me,” continued Smedley who served as Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari from 2006 through 2013. If this is something that he feels strongly and passionately about – and when he talks about it he’s very compelling and convincing in the fact that he’s doing this for what he feels is justice.”
Finally, if you were curious about the ending of the 24 Hours of Daytona and the discrepancy of when it ended, IMSA admitted its error in calling the race one lap early but pointed to the regulations that allow for just such an error.
“Based on Article 49 of the 2024 IMSA Sporting Regulations and Standard Supplementary Regulations, should the checkered flag be inadvertently or otherwise displayed before the leading car completes the scheduled number of laps or before the prescribed time has been completed, the race is nevertheless deemed ended when the flag is displayed.”