Vegas Boosts Liberty Media’s Record F1 Revenue

The Las Vegas Grand Prix was a factor in boosting Liberty Media’s F1 revenue in 2023 as it soared 23% over 2022. The numbers and analysis are part of the Business of Motorsport this week. In Motorsport Legal news, while Christian Horner is absolved by Red Bull, questions remain about the transparency of the investigation.

I also have details on a new charter offer to NASCAR teams, changes at the World Rally Championship and revisions to the damages McLaren feel they are owed by Alex Palou.

All this and much more in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news that racers can use.

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Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Vegas Boosts Liberty Media's Record F1 Revenue

Liberty Media’s Formula One revenues for the year ending 31st December 2023 rose 25 per cent year-over-year (YoY) to US$3.2 billion. Boosted by a 63% increase in Q4 revenue, Formula One generated $3.22 billion for its parent company for the full 2023 fiscal year, Liberty Media, up 25% from 2022.

Here is a roundup of some of the details and analysis.

Despite the success of the Liberty Media promoted Las Vegas Grand Prix, organizers are tweaking the 2024 race weekend including offering cheaper tickets. According to local affiliate KTNV:

We will be going on sale pretty soon. You’ll see we have a significantly higher number of general admission [tickets]. We are actually creating a brand-new general admission-only zone, which will have single-day tickets and be at the lowest price point for the Las Vegas Grand Prix,” said Renee Wilm, Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. “This is largely driven to accommodate the lower-end properties on the Strip and bring downtown into the mix. We are working with the LVCVA to engage downtown with activations and watch parties so everyone can benefit.”

Not everyone is happy about F1’s success with the increased number of races. The drivers, who essentially ARE the sport argue that the current number of races is over the limit and detrimental to the sport.

Well, I feel already that we’re way over the limit of races,” said reigning champion Max Verstappen. “So for me personally, yeah, I know I’m of course still very young, but I also know that I’m not doing this for another 10 years. I think it’s about the quality over quantity that we have to look at as well. And yeah, from my side, I know, and I’ve said it before, this is not sustainable. But if you know people in the sport start shortening their careers because it’s too much. I think that’s a bit of a shame. So hopefully of course we can have a look at that for the future.”

Formula 1 is interested in bringing back the Indian Grand Prix according to Motorsport Week. “In January, reports stated that the Gujarat Sports Authority was exploring an F1 project of its own with a feasibility study in GIFT City to determine whether an event could be prepared in time for 2028.”

As I reported last week (More Uncertainty Over Audi F1 Bid), the Audi F1 project seems to be in a constant state of uncertainty. Not so according to Sauber’s Alessandro Alunni Bravi.

“There is a strong commitment from the Audi Group at all levels,” he told Autosport. “We always said that the decision to enter into F1 was not based on a decision of single individuals, but was based on the decision of the management board of Audi. And it’s then been confirmed by the advisory board of Audi and the supervisory board of VW Group. So the commitment is there.”

David Richards

Motorsport UK Chair David Richards feels that F1 and motorsport in the UK needs more recognition from the government.

“Most of the Formula 1 teams are based here in England, that doesn’t look like changing at all. So there’s the infrastructure here, there’s the technology, there’s the employment and the other activities – whether it’s sports, car racing, rally – have a lot of the operations based here in the UK.

“And we’re still today renowned anywhere you go in the world. They look at the UK as the centre of the world, the epicentre for anything to do with motorsport and the engineering of motorsport.

“It is just disappointing that the government often overlooks this and doesn’t see the importance of it – bar some R&D tax cuts – and how significant the reputation we enjoy is everywhere in the world.

Motorsport UK chair: F1 and sport here needs more recognition

Jonathan Noble in Autosport Plus argues that Netflix’s Drive to Survive was merely the spark that ignited F1’s current popularity boom rather than it being the fire itself.

“Though Drive to Survive clearly had an enormous role to play in the expansion of F1’s fanbase, it is far from the whole story. The show helped create a new audience and energised them, giving the sport a super-engaged online fanbase of creators and consumers” Buzz Radar

What’s overtaken Drive to Survive as F1’s biggest fan engagement tool?

Lewis Hamilton says he will continue his diversity push at the Ferrari Formula 1 team in 2025 after making a difference at his current Mercedes squad. “Of course, [if] you look at Ferrari, they have a lot of work to do, so I’ve already made that a priority in speaking with John,” Hamilton replied. “And they’re super excited to work on it also.”

General Motorsport Industry News

Business of Motorsport

NASCAR has offered to extend the charter system for a further seven years, according to Sports Business Journal (SBJ). NASCAR’s offer lines up with its next media rights cycle, which runs between 2025 and 2031 and is set to be worth US$1.1 billion per year. This would be similar to the current charter agreement, which runs concurrently with the soon-to-be obsolete media rights deal expiring this season. Since the charter system was introduced, they have increased 11 times in value. Spire Motorsports purchased Live Fast Motorsports’ charter for around US$40 million last year.

While negotiations continue over the charter issue, the Daytona 500 suffered from poor viewership due to weather necessitating the move to Monday but the Atlanta race saw gains.

World Rally Championship

The World Rally Championship has decided to scrap hybrid-powered Rally1 cars from 2025, a move that the promoter is supporting. But others are wondering, where is the FIA going with the WRC?

The FIA seems to be drawing on the WEC playbook of balance of performance while at the same time creating the conditions for Rally2 to move to a spaceframe chassis. This would be considered desirable thanks to the safety features of the Rally1 chassis compared with production-based machines. Such a move could also help long term as the supply of small, ICE-only hatchback cars starts to dry up.”

With Chevrolet and Honda under contract to supply 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines through 2026, the NTT IndyCar Series has started preliminary discussions with its current manufacturers, and those they hope to attract, on where its future engine formula might be taken in 2027 and beyond.

RACER has confirmed the talks regarding its next powertrain formula have been in motion since 2023, and the series has presented a range of ideas, gotten feedback on those concepts, and received input on the types of technologies that interest its current and potential engine suppliers.”

The Race is reporting that there are preliminary talks between Liberty Media and the owners of MotoGP.

At face value, that doesn’t come as a big surprise. There’s been open speculation for some time that Dorna has been quietly placed on the market by current owner Bridgepoint Capital, while Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta hasn’t exactly been silent on the prospect of a sale in the coming months.”

FIA hydrogen development program

The FIA World Motor Sport Council convened on February 28th for its first meeting of 2024. The meeting was chaired by President Mohammed Ben Sulayem with FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid and WMSC members joining in person at the Federation’s offices in Geneva and from around the world via video conference. A number of series were on the agenda but one of the more interesting topics covered was the next stage of the FIA hydrogen development program.

As part of the FIA’s energy transition road map, which defines gradual introduction of sustainable power sources in motor sport, the FIA continues development of hydrogen-fuelled power units across different disciplines and competitions.

As the next phase, the FIA will focus its efforts on contribution to development and promotion of solutions based on hydrogen stored in liquid form (LH2). Given the tank’s characteristics, lower volume and weight compared to compressed gas tanks (CGH2), liquid storage form is better suited to the demanding environment of motor sport competitions, where optimisation is key. This also allows the powertrain layout to remain closer to the one of a conventional combustion-powered car compared with vehicles accommodating compressed gas tanks.

Solutions utilising compressed gas storage type will be considered as interim solution, provided minimum safety and technical requirements are met.

Solutions utilising compressed gas storage type will be considered as interim solution, provided minimum safety and technical requirements are met.

The FIA has been leading the work on regulations for hydrogen-powered vehicles in motor sport, with safety being one of the key considerations, since 2019, when it formed its FIA Hydrogen Technical Working Group, gathering numerous manufacturers and industry-leading companies.

In 2020, the FIA World Motor Sport Council approved the addition of article 253.19 (which outlines safety regulations for hydrogen-powered vehicles in motor sport) to its International Sporting Code.

Technologies and strategies for the future set out at first World Motor Sport Council meeting of 2024

Autosport has some additional context on the announcement including the status of hydrogen fuel cells while pointing out how hydrogen is becoming more and more popular as a sustainable fuel option.

Momentum has slowly gathered pace behind hydrogen as an alternative to electric power as a pathway for sustainable motorsport, because water is its only byproduct when produced by a process of electrolysis using renewable energy sources.”

Supercars will consider a range of options for its 2025 season-opener, after that of 2024 was held as part of the inaugural Bathurst SuperFest. “We’ll go into negotiations with a variety of states and different areas, and, together internally, [consider] what’s best for the category to open up next year.”

Forbes reports that fast-charging technology is bringing a new element to all-electric Formula E racing: pit stop strategy. It’s one of several reasons that CEO Jeff Dodds believes the series is becoming more attractive to potential sponsors and media partners.

You know, I think we’re a pretty compelling — an open arm environment for people to come and test technology, develop technology, use it as a marketing platform, without some of the inconsistency that might go away and go along with some of the other series.”

Nova Motorsport has acquired the assets of Avon Tyres. With a new commercial headquarters in Wiltshire in the UK, Nova Motorsport has secured all residual stock from the Cooper Tire & Rubber Company to deliver consistent service and supply, and an extended range is scheduled for introduction in the second half of 2024.

Tilke has expanded their business scope and have launched Tilke Operations. “With tailored solutions for all track management needs, from consultancy to full circuit operation management, we help tracks reach their full potential.”

Radical Motorsport have announced their 2023 Dealer of the Year awards. Radical Northwest, based out of Sonoma Raceway in California secured 1st place in the Dealer of the Year Americas, closely followed by Radical Arizona out of APEX Motor Club and Radical Georgia operated by Primal Racing in Atlanta.

For the ‘Rest of World’ category Radical United Arab Emirates operated by GulfSport once again won Dealer of the Year 2023, having won in 2022.

Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week

Vegas Boosts Liberty Media's Record F1 Revenue

Motorsport Law Roundup

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

Christian Horner Cleared of Allegations

Business of Motorsport

The inquest into an allegation made by a female employee against Red Bull boss Christian Horner concluded this week with Horner being cleared of any wrongdoing. A statement issued by the Red Bull company in Austria said: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed. The complainant has a right of appeal.”

Red Bull had appointed an independent barrister to conduct the investigation into the unspecified claims made against Horner.

While the investigations are concluded, the concern expressed around the brief statement issued by Red Bull, which provided no particulars, had some questioning the investigations transparency.

Toto Wolff: “My personal opinion is we can’t really look at the behind the curtain,” he told media including “At the end of the day there is a lady in an organisation that has spoken to HR and said there is an issue and it was investigated and yesterday the sport has received a message ‘it’s all fine. We’ve looked at it.’

“I believe that with the sport as a global sport, on such critical topics, it needs more transparency and I wonder what the sport’s position is? We are competitors, we are a team and we can have our own personal opinions or not.

“But it’s more like a general reaction or action that we as a sport need. We need to assess what is right in that situation, what is wrong.”

Zak Brown: “I read the statement,” Brown admitted to media including Motorsport Week during Thursday’s press conference in Bahrain. “From what I’ve seen, there continues to be a lot of rumours and speculation. I think the sanctioning body has a responsibility and authority to our sport, to our fans. I think all of us in F1 are ambassadors for the sport on and off the track and so I think they need to make sure that things have been fully transparent with [Red Bull].”

“I don’t know what those conversations are [but] it needs to be thorough, fully transparent and that they come to the same conclusion that has been given by Red Bull. I think until then, they’ll continue to be speculation because there are a lot of unanswered questions about the whole process. And I don’t think that’s healthy for the sport.”

“I think it’s the responsibility ultimately of the organizers of Formula One, the owners of Formula One, to make sure that all the racing teams and the personnel and the drivers and everyone involved in the sport are operating in a manner in which we all live by. I don’t think it’s the team’s roles and responsibilities.”

For his part, aside from expressing relief that the investigation is over, Christian Horner has refused to answer questions or respond to “anonymous speculation” after an apparent leak of evidence from the inquest.

“I won’t comment on anonymous speculation,” Horner said. “But to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations. I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully co-operated with it every step of the way. It was a thorough and fair investigation conducted by an independent specialist barrister and it has concluded dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

In response, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali are set to meet at the Bahrain Grand Prix to discuss potential next steps over the Christian Horner controversy.

McLaren’s lawsuit against Palou increases damage claim to $31.5 million

Alex Palou

McLaren’s ongoing lawsuit against Alex Palou over his breach of contract related to driving services in IndyCar and F1 has been amended to include more damages than initially claimed. The lawsuit against Palou, who stepped away from a signed deal with McLaren in order to continue driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, now aims to recover $31.5 million, up from the initial $22 million claim. Part of the updated figure comes from recalculating the amount of money lost renegotiating a sponsorship deal with NTT, which was originally expecting to be attached to a championship-winning driver.

The Race has compiled seven things that they learned from court documents including the fact that McLaren claims it had been necessary to offer O’Ward $2m for 2024-25 – a period where he will become a McLaren F1 reserve driver, in 2024 at least. McLaren also claims another $4m was needed for 2026 and $4.2m for 2027 to secure his services, a sum total of $10.2m.

No date has been set for trial yet.

Who Puts on “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”?

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Gates

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles says his organization will “take every measure” in an ongoing trademark dispute involving Formula 1 and its partners. In a statement given to Autosport Boles said: “We are aware of the use of our mark in what appears to be a broadcast promotional spot. We will once again address it with the appropriate people and are prepared to take every measure possible to protect our brand’s intellectual property. It continues to be disappointing that others can’t create their own brand identity without infringing upon ours.”

F1 Says They Followed the Correct Process with F1 Andretti Cadillac Rejection

Andretti Cadillac F1

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has insisted that “the process has been followed” in respect of the recent rejection of the bid from the Andretti Cadillac team. “Making his first public statement on the Andretti Cadillac rejection in a call with Wall Street analysts, Domenicali made it clear that F1 had followed the correct protocols.”

Domenicali also noted that the provisions for an 11th team will be part of the discussions over the next Concorde Agreement, which will come into force in 2026.

There has been surprisingly little comment from the FIA regarding the rejection and no legal maneuverings to date by anyone connected to the rejected bid.

Vegas Boosts Liberty Media's Record F1 Revenue

The Race reports that former satellite Aprilia MotoGP team owner CryptoData is poised to initiate legal action against championship promoter Dorna and teams’ body the International Race Teams Association, claiming that the two organisations have committed ‘serious breaches of contractual obligations and engaged in anti-competitive practices’ following the decision to withdraw the team’s grid spots at the end of 2023.

“Despite repeated attempts to address these issues through dialogue, Dorna and IRTA have consistently failed to meet their financial commitments and have engaged in actions that constitute an abuse of power and a breach of competition law,” the document seen by The Race reads. “These actions have not only resulted in significant financial losses for our company but have also aimed at undermining our competitive position and reputation in the industry.”

NASCAR Daytona 500

Throughout its history, which enters its 76th year in 2024, NASCAR’s participants have strived to bend the stock car rulebook to give them an advantage over rivals and Charles Bradley outlines how the issuing of fines has only increased since the series was founded in 1949.

While the fines levied at Hendrick and Kaulig after Phoenix added up to half a million dollars, the biggest single fine by NASCAR occurred in May 2023, when it announced its first-ever L3-level penalty against Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe and the #14 team after it found counterfeit parts on the Next Gen car.”

Rolex 24 Flags

For the second consecutive year, IMSA has announced post-race penalties long after the conclusion of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 26 days after the conclusion of the race in fact, leading to confusion and frustration amongst teams and fans.

The IMSA Technical Committee and the IMSA Supervisory Officials “unanimously determined” that the cars of Ferrari and BMW “exceeded IMSA’s expectations as shared in the GT Manufacturers Technical Working Groups. The goal was to ensure the Demonstrated Performance of the best example of each Manufacturer’s Car Model would be within a targeted performance window—allowing for competitive equivalency.”

BMW expressed outrage after finishing on the podium. “We at BMW North America and BMW M Motorsports are furious by this action as we assure you that we, as well as our customer racing teams, have been completely open and transparent with IMSA about our performance during the Roar and the Rolex 24.”

Drowning in a Sea of Rules, IMSA Quietly Hands out Fines, Penalties from Rolex 24 at Daytona

F1 Logo

Finally, RacingNews365 has put together a complete overview of the new rules coming into effect in Formula 1 in 2024. Of particular interest to any team owners and legal professionals is the change to the “right to review.”

“In 2023, all teams could request a ‘right to review’, which happened several times. Through this, teams could challenge the outcome of a race, having 14 days to do so. In 2024, teams will only have four days [96 hours] to make such a request. Additionally, if approved, they must pay €6,000 to the FIA.”

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

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

Charlotte Tilbury
Business of Motorsport
Business of Motorsport
Meyer Shank Racing

Team & Manufacturer News

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

Vegas Boosts Liberty Media's Record F1 Revenue
Business of Motorsport
Vegas Boosts Liberty Media's Record F1 Revenue

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.