More Uncertainty Over Audi F1 Bid

More uncertainty is clouding the Audi F1 bid as yet another top-level executive leaves the manufacturer. Whether they continue with their F1 plans or not is part of this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport.

I also look at the finances of F1 and the teams that race in it, NASCAR’s new breed of owners and international aspirations as well as the impact of Saudi Arabia’s investment in electric motorsport.

In Motorsport Legal news, you will learn of an astonishing oversight by Las Vegas Grand Prix organizers and much more. I also have the latest sponsorship deals and partnership news and analysis, global race team developments and much more.

It’s all in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news that racers (and their lawyers) can use.

Don’t forget that the Motorsport Prospects Weekly Newsletter is now available so you will not miss out on any news racers can use! Check out the footer of every page on the Motorsport Prospects website and sign up now!

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Audi F1 Airbox

Autosport is reporting that Audi’s Formula 1 project is facing fresh uncertainty amid indications that one of the key figures behind its entry into grand prix racing looks set to leave the German manufacturer.

Just a few months after CEO Markus Duesmann, regarded as the key advocate for its F1 project, left the company, it now appears that one of its other architects, chief development officer Oliver Hoffmann, is also set to move on. Hoffmann’s long-term contract as CDO had been extended as recently as last year, but according to a report in the German Bild newspaper, he could be forced out of the company.

Andretti Cadillac F1

While one engine manufacturer has been granted a place on the F1 grid, another is still working on it as General Motors is confident in their Andretti Cadillac F1 bid. But they also have explained how an F1 engine any earlier than 2028 is not feasible while work on the chassis continues “at pace.”

When you register to be a power unit, there is a deadline to do that, and for us it was last June for 2028,” GM’s Vice President of Performance and Motorsport Jim Campbell explained. “If you wanted to develop an engine sooner, then you would have had to register the previous year for that. So, it’s simply a regulation.”

Three Formula 1 teams were amongst the list of Sportico’s 100 Most Valuable Sports Teams in the World. Ferrari was ranked #71, Mercedes #81 and Red Bull #88. No other race teams made the list. American NFL team the Dallas Cowboys were ranked #1.

In the video above, CNBC’s Sara Eisen goes inside Formula 1, finding out how the racing league’s most prominent team principals manage their billion-dollar businesses, woo sponsors, and keep advancing their high-tech cars under a recently created cost cap.  Watch the video to find out what it takes to run a cutting-edge race car over the months-long Formula 1 season.

Liberty Media Financials

In the third post of his three-part series on Liberty Media’s growth strategy for F1 since its takeover in 2017, Theo Cohen looks at the impact of COVID, F1’s financial growth and looks to the future.

Liberty CEO Greg Maffei recently stated that Liberty is “here to play the long game” with respect to its stewardship of F1. When Liberty eventually decides to cash out, it’ll hope to realise a considerable return on its investment. The indicators from its financial statements, as well as those related to fan engagement and viewership outlined in my first post, suggest that Liberty may have substantially increased F1’s value already.”

Read the first post here and the second post here.

At the beginning of the month I reported that Malaysia was looking to get their Grand Prix back at the fan and driver favourite circuit Sepang. This week it is Turkey’s turn according to Motorsport Week.

A tender process to take ownership of the Istanbul Park circuit could set the stage for a Turkish Grand Prix reprisal in time for the 2026 Formula 1 season, according to reports. Now, Motorsport France reports that a forthcoming change of ownership will be followed swiftly by a bid to bring F1 racing back to the circuit on a more permanent basis.

Current leaseholders, Intercity, will not extend beyond the end of this year and it is understood that a tender process is being set in motion by the Turkish Motor Sports Federation to secure a new lease of 30 years for approximately €110 million. The successful party is expected to be announced in April and as laid out in the tender process, will have a month to secure a slot on the 2026 F1 calendar.

Turkey lining up potential F1 return for 2026 – report

I have mentioned how Zak Brown is pushing for the FIA to end the practice of having one company owning two teams, something that Christian Horner naturally disagrees with. Josh Suttill and Edd Straw of The Race explain why they are both wrong.

Talks between FOM, Liberty and the FIA have been started as Toto Wolff disclosed to Racing News365. “There are some good pillars in place. There are commercial negotiations that are going to happen, but it is not going to be like turning the whole thing upside down. So I think from the fundamentals, we are in a solid place. What we are looking at is a governance topic – what is the best way of getting to decisions in the future for the benefit of the sport. That is something we are discussing.”

Finally, Vincenzo Landino looks at the complex world of Formula 1 logistics.

Transportation is multimodal, leveraging land, air, and sea to navigate ten different time zones, spending 240 hours on flights and transporting 1,500 tons of equipment over 75,000 miles. This includes the cars and team garages, hospitality units, and the broadcast media setup essential for bringing the race to millions of fans worldwide.

The complexity is further heightened by external factors such as weather delays, customs regulations, and even global events like the pandemic, which have tested and ultimately showcased the resilience and adaptability of the F1 logistics operation. The logistics operation is also based on speed and precision engineering. A team could be highly disadvantaged if one piece doesn’t make it to a race.

The Complex World of Formula 1 Logistics

General Motorsport Industry News

Michael Jordan

With the NASCAR season officially kicked off, Front Office Sports looks at the new breed of ownership and international ambitions of NASCAR. “Now, as more U.S. fans give their attention to globally dominant F1, the 75-year-old NASCAR thinks it still has serious room to grow with a bold media strategy, increasingly recognizable faces (drivers or otherwise), and the series’ own international ambitions.”

When it comes to those international ambitions, NASCAR’s Chad Seigler outlines the series’ international goals in PMW Magazine.

Our model’s a little different from some of the other, what I would call global platforms, in the sense that we don’t necessarily take our Cup series and pack it up and move it around the world,” he outlines. “That’s not our business model. What we try to do is create individual series in those markets that we’re targeting. Our goal is to build an infrastructure in those markets. You want to create local stories, local team owners, local mechanics, and really expose the sport of NASCAR to markets outside of the US. The goal is to develop all those while at the same time, if you have a young driver that says, ‘Instead of going to F1, my goal is to go to Daytona,’ we’re providing them a platform.”

All is not rosy in NASCAR’s world though. While the series works to entice Honda to join the series, team owners (celebrity or not) are not thrilled with the NASCAR charter system and have hired an anti-trust lawyer for advice (more on that in Motorsport Law Roundup below). Sportico looks at what a NASCAR charter is and why are the teams so upset about it.

Under the charter structure, NASCAR and the teams pledged exclusivity to each other—the circuit wouldn’t create more charters and teams wouldn’t race for other leagues. The current charters are in effect through the end of 2024, when NASCAR’s current media rights deal expires.”

Racer is reporting that the FOX Broadcasting Company has emerged as a serious contender for the NTT IndyCar Series’ broadcast rights. NBC, the series’ current TV and streaming partner which has held its exclusive rights since 2019, is entering the final year of its broadcast arrangement with IndyCar.

“On FOX, I can confirm that they have been interested,” IndyCar/Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told RACER. “They’ve been in discussions with us from when we first began the process to market our rights for 2025. They’re fans of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 race. They built a reputation for doing a great job in the way they tell stories and in the way they produce events. I think they’re eager to see what they could do in that regard with the 500 and with IndyCar.”

In other IndyCar-related news, widespread safety upgrades have been made to the fencing and barriers Indianapolis Motor Speedway ahead of the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

This is a big investment,” IndyCar president Jay Frye told RACER. “It’s millions to do all this because even doing the new SAFER foam all the way around the track is a big expense, which is amazing.”

More Uncertainty Over Audi F1 Bid

The start of the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue could be postponed due to delayed sea-freight that has impacted more than half of the grid. It comes less than 48 hours prior to the scheduled start of the official pre-season test at Lusail International Circuit in Qatar on Saturday.

Due to ongoing disruption to the shipping route in the Red Sea, a number of shipping containers were delayed on their way to Qatar for the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship,” read an official WEC statement provided to Sportscar365. The championship is expecting a 24-48 hour delay to some of the freight arriving at the circuit and keeping teams updated regularly on the progress. The schedule of the Prologue, therefore, may change and a decision is expected shortly.”

As Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds says the series will “retain its DNA” and “be a street racing series” going forward, despite a recent influx of permanent facilities to the all-electric series’ calendar, he admits that they are looking at adding a second race in the United States.

Obviously we’re in Mexico, we’re in Portland; I think the North American market — specifically the USA — can sustain another race,” Dodds said. “It will be nice for us to have two races going forward, and I think there are plenty of big, exciting cities to race in. There are many rumors circulating about a potential race in Los Angeles, rarely is there smoke without fire in motorsport,” he admitted. “I think Los Angeles will be an incredible venue to hold a Formula E race, particularly given the state of California’s focus on sustainability and environmental issues.”

Extreme E

Is Saudi Arabia taking over electric motorsports? That is the question James Morris at Forbes seeks to answer in his deep dive on the Kingdom’s sustainable motorsport investments.

A lot of things shifted in Saudi Arabia starting from 2017, when His Royal Highness the Crown Prince started Vision 2030,” says His Royal Highness Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al-Abdullah Al-Faisal, Chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the Saudi Motorsport Company. “It’s a roadmap for Saudi Arabia and how to shift its economy and position in the world. It’s not healthy for Saudi Arabia just to rely on oil as the main income for Saudi Arabia. That’s why our first international event in Saudi Arabia was Formula E, sending a message that we’re thinking about the future and alternative energy.”

Just as it prepares to kick off its 11th season, International GT has officially become part of Parella Motorsports Holdings. In February, PMH acquired the North American racing series, which includes three different championships for late-model Ferrari and Porsche GT3-spec sports cars.

We’re thrilled to officially welcome International GT to the Parella Motorsports Holdings family,” said Tony Parella, CEO of PMH. “They have been part of the family for years, participating in our SpeedTour events since 2015. Ken Fengler has been pivotal to the success of IGT, and will continue as president. We look forward to supporting him as he drives IGT into the future.”

Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week

Business of Motorsport

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

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

Alpine Front Wing
Business of Motorsport
More Uncertainty Over Audi F1 Bid
Business of Motorsport
Erebus Motorsport

Team & Manufacturer News

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

Kelly Racing
More Uncertainty Over Audi F1 Bid
Porsche Penske Motorsport Mannheim
Optimum Motorsport McLaren GT3

Motorsport Law Roundup

Las Vegas Grand Prix

In an astonishing development, AutoWeek is reporting that a possible contract “snafu” could pose issues for the future of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Clark County (Nev.) Commissioner Tick Segerblom alleges that the county never actually signed a contract with Formula 1 for the Las Vegas Grand Prix which now races in that county.

“It turns out that we never signed a contract, that was all with the LVCVA,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, referring to F1’s deal for a race with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “Everybody keeps saying that we’ve got three years—we never committed to three years, to my knowledge.”

“We are very serious about looking back, going back and re-evaluate what happened, and try to figure out ways we can tweak the system or even dramatically change the system,” Segerblom said. “Because, in a lot of ways, it was a great event for us. But in a lot of ways, we paid the price for it and learned the hard way.

“Can we cut back on the number of months that the town is torn up? A lot of stuff happened, and I haven’t met anybody that likes Formula 1. So it’s time to kind of find out.”

Possible Contract Snafu Leaves Cloud Over Future of F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix

The issue was supposed to be discussed during this week’s Clark County Commission meeting and was on the agenda but has been tabled for the time being. “It is anticipated that the agenda item for Board discussion on F1 noticed for next Tuesday will be held for a future meeting in the coming weeks to align around the County’s public debrief of the event and the structure for facilitating future races,” Clark County spokeswoman Jennifer Cooper said Thursday night in an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”

Jeffrey Kessler.

As mentioned above, NASCAR owners are sending a message to the France family by retaining the Michael Jordan of sports litigation: Jeffrey Kessler.

Over the years, Kessler has led litigations on behalf of leading figures in sports, including Tom Brady, the NFLPA, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the NBPA. Kessler is currently advocating for college athletes in Carter v. NCAA and In Re College Athlete Litigation (also known as House v. NCAA). In these cases the NCAA and Power Five conferences are accused of violating antitrust law by conspiring to limit college athlete compensation.”

Business of Motorsport

United Against Online Abuse, the FIA-backed campaign tackling online abuse in sport, has partnered with international law firm Clark Hill to release updated guidance on the European Digital Services Act for sports organisations.

United Against Online Abuse, the FIA-backed campaign tackling online abuse in sport, has partnered with international law firm Clark Hill to release updated guidance on the European Digital Services Act for sports organisations.

This collaboration aims to provide clarity and support as the Act takes effect on intermediary service providers (ISPs) from February 17th of this year.

Business of Motorsport

Mercedes front wing design has raised a few eyebrows in the F1 paddock for exploiting a loophole in the regulations but Mercedes is convinced that the front wing is legal.

Article 3.9.1.e of the FIA Sporting Regulations mandates that “With the exception of the rearmost closed section, the rearmost point of every closed section must not be visible when viewed from above.” The top element, therefore, must cover, when viewed from the top, the rear of the element below it. The carbon strip on the top element’s inboard section does that. Speedcafe understood no team has raised concerns, nor is the FIA especially worried about it.”

Motorsport Movers & Shakers

Business of Motorsport

Matt Bishop makes the convincing case in Motorsport Magazine for Alex Wurz being the next FIA President.

His future, from a professional point of view, like that of all of us, depends on how he can deploy his experience and expertise to suit best his options and opportunities. His experience and expertise as a racing driver constitute a gilt-edged curriculum vitae – obviously. But there are quite a few other ex-drivers of his approximate vintage whose CVs are not dissimilar. However, Alex has many more strings to his bow than merely racing experience and expertise.”

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.