Landmark Motorsport Legal Ruling Brings Clarity to 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Controversy

In this week’s Motorsport Law Roundup, I delve into how a significant legal ruling in motorsport may shed light on the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix controversy. Furthermore, I explore its potential application to the Felipe Massa case.

Additionally, I analyze the ramifications of Lewis Hamilton’s contract with Ferrari, delve into Michael Andretti’s response to last week’s FOM ruling, explore the possibility of NASCAR remaining in Los Angeles, and cover various other topics in this week’s installment of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.

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Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Andretti Cadillac F1

The reaction to F1 denying the Andretti bid was muted when I reported on it during last week’s Business of Motorsport but Michael Andretti has now forcefully responded. Essentially he has stated that 2025 was the preferred year of entry but they are now preparing for 2026. As for not showing up for that FOM meeting? You can blame a spam filter for that but honestly, why in the world would FOM not follow up?

The reaction from fans, especially American fans has been negative with many stating the narrative that “F1 does not want Americans” conveniently forgetting that Liberty Media is an American company and that there are now 3 American Grands Prix.

Here is a roundup of some reactions and analysis.

Business of Motorsport

The other bombshell that dropped last week was Lewis Hamilton signing for Ferrari. I briefly mentioned the $7B increase in Ferrari value overnight last week but it looks like the deal is deeper than that.

The terms agreed to by Hamilton reportedly includes a pay packet just north of $87m for 2025, with the option to extend for 2026, a quarter of that going into funding Mission 44, while Elkann has offered to create a joint-investment fund via Ferrari’s parent brand Exor, worth over $272m, where Hamilton would serve as the ambassador for his portfolio.”

Is it any wonder that Lewis Hamilton is only one of two F1 drivers (the other was Max Verstappen) that made the recent Forbes list of highest paid athletes in the world?

Here are links to some of the excellent analysis on the implications of the move.

Theo’s Thoughts has published Part 1 of an in-depth analysis of how Liberty Media boosted F1 to commercial success. “According to a Forbes valuation in January 2023, F1’s enterprise value had grown 114% under Liberty’s ownership, to $17.1b.”

Despite the grumblings of some about F1 expanding away from classic circuits, two contract extensions announced this week go against that trend.

The Japanese Grand Prix will remain for an additional 5 years at Suzuka as F1 has signed a new contract with the venue’s promoter. Silverstone will also remain on the calendar as the host of the British Grand Prix as they have signed a new 10 year contract with F1.

General Motorsport Industry News

Business of Motorsport

NASCAR kicked off their 2024 season with their 3rd exhibition race at the Los Angeles Coliseum that turned out to be a damp squid of an event. Having to move the race to the Saturday night instead of its scheduled Sunday slot because of projected torrential downpours for Sunday caused chaos with the schedule.

While NASCAR promised to make things right for the fans despite the financial hit they will incur, many are wondering whether the series’ L.A. experiment has run its course. “NASCAR has achieved its objective and now it needs to tap another area in its effort to increase its fan base. Even though NASCAR has yet to announce the 2025 Busch Light Clash’s location, rumors already abound as to where it might move.”

NASCAR teams have let the charter negotiation window expire, as talks are now set to run into the season. Sports Business Journal reports that teams have unanimously agreed to not extend negotiations in symbolic move to highlight their discontent. It should be noted that NASCAR does not need an agreement with the majority of teams for a new charter agreement.

In more positive NASCAR news, their Netflix series is off to a strong start. “NASCAR’s new Netflix documentary has already started making the Top 10 shows list in nearly 20 countries since launching earlier this week, according to streaming tracking site FlixPatrol.”

The Indy Star is reporting that IndyCar is exploring a NASCAR-like charter system to increase team value.

To Shank, Edwards and other executives’ overwhelming delight, Penske Entertainment Corp. officials have begun laying the groundwork for a system that would offer them ownership over a finite number of ‘charters’ that would guarantee a team full-time competition in the sport, as well as an annual cut of IndyCar’s revenue. While the latter feature is no different than the series’ current Leaders Circle program that (with some caveats) pays the previous season’s top-22 entrants in points roughly $1 million annually, the effort to more formally restrict and define IndyCar’s full-season entrants would deliver concrete value to being on the IndyCar grid.”

Business of Motorsport

Racer looks at the new phenomena of IndyCar drivers creating experiential events for their fans. “Veterans and newcomers alike are branching out into the creation of track days, wine tours, golf outings, and packages where fans are hosted at races by some of their favorite drivers in the series.”

Having IMSA and Rolex 24 at Daytona featured in the new Formula 1-based major motion picture starring Brad Pitt “can only be good” according to IMSA President John Doonan. “It’s testament to the folks that are making the film. They wanted 100 percent authentic, where you see Pat Long, who has been coaching and teaching and making sure the racing scenes are authentic, whether it’s a pit stop or on track activity.”

The World Rally Championship is confident the Middle East will host a round of the championship next season. “We remain absolutely confident that in 2025 there will be a Middle East round of the WRC,” Larkin told media as reported by Autosport.

We’re also very confident because we will be ambitious that when we have a WRC event in the region, we think it can also revitalise the Middle East Rally Championship, and we will work very tirelessly to make that happen. We think it’s a really critical market for competitors. We all remember quite a few years ago we had so many Middle Eastern competitors competing here at every level, and we want to bring that back and having a foundation event there we know is a critical thing there.”

PRI Magazine has an informative feature on Shift Up Now’s Pippa Mann on the issue of funding for women in motorsport.

Funding is an issue for all racing drivers regardless of where they’re from, who they are, absolutely. But when you look at the research into marketing spend and sponsorship spend and dollar spend, you’ll see there’s still a significant disparity. That’s where Shift Up Now is trying to persuade sponsors to step up to the plate to back women in motorsport equally. Our goal is not more, our goal is equal.”

Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week

Apple Vision Pro

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

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

Business of Motorsport
Business of Motorsport
Wolf Lubricants
Landmark Motorsport Legal Ruling Brings Clarity to 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Controversy

The Business of Running a Race Team

Sean Creech Motorsport

Being the only Ligier LMP2 runner in a sea of Orecas could be daunting but Sean Creech Motorsport explains to Motorsport Week that they are up to the task.

“We had a very aggressive, but manageable testing schedule,” related Willsey. “Between a series of circumstances, the repaving of the track here [at Daytona] we lost two days, then bad storms we lost a couple more days of testing.

“Quite literally, the first time I drove the car on sticker tires was in qualifying. Some of that was by design, considering the testing we had. We as a team have had very, very little time to develop the car. Which in some ways is unfortunate, but it’s also encouraging that we find ourselves competitive.

“We’re nowhere close, nor will be the fastest car in LMP2 with what we know today, but we’re competitive and making improvement.”

Bringing Ligier back to LMP2

Team & Manufacturer News

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

US Racing
Landmark Motorsport Legal Ruling Brings Clarity to 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Controversy
Landmark Motorsport Legal Ruling Brings Clarity to 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Controversy

Motorsport Law Roundup

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

In last week’s Motorsport Law Roundup I mentioned the importance of the recent FIA International Court of Appeal (ICA) decision in the International GT Open International Championship appeal brought by Optimum Motorsport. The key takeaway from this appeal is the following:

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.”

I mentioned how this decision could impact Felippe Massa’s current legal challenge to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix last week, but Sam Tomlinson of Motorsport Week and Adam Cooper of Autosport believe the decision also suggest that Mercedes would have lost its 2021 Abu Dhabi F1 appeal if they had gone ahead with it.

The ICA noted that the “race director did commit a breach of the regulations”, but in an extensive explanation that referenced previous cases and all applicable regulations, it declared that “the court decides therefore that neither the stewards nor the NCA [the Spanish national court] had the power to cancel the race”.

Significantly, the ICA added that “if it uses its specific power to annul or amend the classification, following the breach committed by the race director, it would try and rectify an unfair situation by creating another unfair situation.

It also suggests that any future appeal, should similar circumstances arise again in an F1 event, will not be successful.

Court decision shows Mercedes would have lost 2021 Abu Dhabi F1 appeal

Business of Motorsport

While Alessandro Alunni Bravi feels that replacing Alfa Romeo branding with Stake gives Sauber ‘a strong identity’, the rebrand is not going down as well with the Swiss Federal Gaming Board – the Eidgenossische Spielbankenkommission (ESBK) and the Federal Casino Commission who are taking a closer look at the sponsor.

The Federal Casino Commission in Switzerland has initiated proceedings against Sauber due to the unlicensed status of Stake, potentially resulting in a substantial fine. Despite this, the team remains confident in their compliance efforts, according to Bravi.

The situation in Switzerland is particularly problematic for Sauber. Despite the clear regulations against unlicensed gambling operations and their advertising, Stake’s branding is prominently displayed by Sauber, potentially breaching these laws. Legal expert Patrick Krauskopf, a professor of competition law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, told SRF the following:

“Sponsoring would be allowed. In the present case, the brands Stake and Sauber are so linked together, or the term Stake is so strongly imprinted in the minds of viewers, that we have probably crossed the red line into unauthorized advertising.”

Stake F1 In Hot Water As Casino Commission Opens Legal Proceedings Against Title Sponsor

“We always comply, and will continue to apply with all applicable laws,” a team spokesperson told “We have taken all measures to comply with them.”

Business of Motorsport

Former AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver Nyck de Vries has lost a legal case initiated by a company that invested in his career by providing him with a loan. The Amsterdam District Court has decreed that De Vries will have to repay the €250,000 loan and, in addition, pay half of both his salary and any sponsorship income he earned during his partial F1 season with AlphaTauri up to July 2023.

Interestingly, the case hinges on what is considered “participation in F1.” Can de Vries racing in the 2022 Italian Grand Prix be considered “participation in F1” as his investor suggests or is the reserve driver role just that, a temporary situation that should be considered a one-off? The initial judgement ruled that the 2022 race did not constitute participation in F1 while the Amsterdam District Court decision ruled that it did.

The Dutchman is now considering an appeal against the decision.

If you were wondering whether Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari in 2025 (see above) means that famed race engineer Bono and others may follow him you can rest tight (maybe). It appears that Hamilton has a “no-poaching” clause in his Mercedes contract.

These types of stipulations tend to be reserved for those in management positions but have been used in the past before. Sebastian Vettel reportedly had such a deal in his final Red Bull contract, meaning that when he moved to Ferrari in 2015, he was unable to bring race engineer Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin with him.”

Two top FIA legal department executives with a strong involvement in Formula 1 are leaving the organization. Governance and regulatory director Pierre Ketterer and head of commercial legal affairs Edward Floydd, both of whom had a hand in Concorde Agreement negotiations on behalf of the FIA, are departing.

Finally, in a successful collaboration, a team of FIA Training Experts joined forces with Jordanian trainers to enhance the skills of Iraqi officials through the Iraqi Officials Training Program. This initiative, supported by the Motorsport Funding Programme and in coordination with the Iraq Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (IAMF) in 2023, focused on intensive training and the implementation of key race arbitration laws. It marked a significant milestone in boosting the skills of Iraqi referees in motorsport.

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.