Why a Billion Dollar F1 Team is a Sports Bargain

This week you will learn why some think that a billion-dollar F1 team is a sports investment bargain. It’s all part of the Business of Motorsport.

I also bring you details on why the FIA is willing to butt heads with Liberty Media, NASCAR’s new Netflix deal and the state of athlete investing (with some interesting motorsport connections).

All this plus the latest motorsport sponsorship deals and partnership news, what race teams are making changes for 2024 and why James Vowles feels it is impossible to plan for five years in F1.

Welcome to another week in the Business of Motorsport on Motorsport Prospects. Its business news racers can use.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Why a Billion Dollar F1 Team is a Sports Bargain

SpeedCafe reports that the incredible rise in value of F1 in recent seasons has seen teams increase in value to where some are worth more than a billion dollars. However, Williams boss James Vowles suggests that’s not “a lot” given the value of franchises in other sports.

Here’s the interesting; is a billion dollar team a lot? I wouldn’t say so,” Vowles told SpeedCafe. “The cheapest NFL team, if you wanted to spend your money, would be four [billion], expensive six [billion]. We’re not expensive for the sport that we are, and I think that the headroom is quite significant in front of us because we are, as a sport, growing significantly.”

Racer explains why FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem is willing to pitch the FIA against Liberty Media in the new teams debate.

“Imagine us saying no to [the possibility of] potential teams,” says Ben Sulayem. “We are here to sustain motorsport, sustain the business. We don’t look at the market share, we are a non-profit, we have been established 118 years for motorsport. I don’t want any big team to take us to court and say that we have been blocking them for the wrong reasons.”

“Yes, we opened the expression of interest. They come in, we do the due diligence, we check, we look into it, we look at their financial side, technical side and we look also at where we see ourselves in years to come. F1 is commercially sustainable, but then I look at the sports side. If we get a United States team, that would be good.”

“Why should I stop saying what I feel? I shouldn’t, no-one should stop other people in saying what they feel. When it comes to security [and capacity], now we are running the Hollywood team [for the Brad Pitt-led movie], so it’s not that [there isn’t space]. The tracks are so big.”

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem

Las Vegas Grand Prix Start Finish Line

As the Las Vegas Grand Prix promotions pick up steam as we get closer to the event, The Hollywood Reporter explains the complexities behind the $560M challenge of turning the Las Vegas Strip into an F1 race track.

One thing that race promoters have apparently relented on was the fees they were intending to charge for any establishment that had a view of the track. Front Office Sports reports that they were originally planning to charge a reported $1,500 per patron, sparking outrage and potentially costing business owners millions. “Formula 1 is still looking to squeeze every dollar out of the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix, but at a more reasonable cost to local establishments.”

As I mentioned last week, Felipe Massa is looking to the courts to resolve what he feels was a conspiracy to cheat him out of the 2008 World Championship, something he claims cost him millions of dollars. With an eye towards that potential lawsuit, Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur says Ferrari are “trying to push” the FIA for clarity over quicker verdicts, but the team boss admits personally he isn’t a fan of changing the results 15 minutes after the race, never mind 15 years later.

By the way, Formula 1 and the FIA have until August 29 to respond to Massa’s letter.

In yet another twist to the Palou saga, after IndyCar driver Alex Palou advised the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team that he would not be racing for them in 2024, McLaren have filed joint lawsuits against Alex Palou and Chip Ganassi Racing in UK Commercial Court. “We made a significant investment in Alex Palou, looking forward to racing with him in 2024,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said. “We’re placing our trust in the legal system to resolve this matter and will keep our comments at that. As a team, we’re turning our focus to the final races this season and on our plans for 2024, which we’ll announce once we’re ready.”

One of the assumptions was that Palou would make the move to F1 after racing IndyCars with McLaren but clearly that will no longer be the case. If you were wondering what non-McLaren options Palou may in fact have in F1, here is the current status of all drivers on the current F1 grid according to Planet F1.

Looking for a primer on race driver contracts in IndyCar and F1? Check out The Contract Debacle by Olivia Hicks.

General Motorsport Industry News

Why a Billion Dollar F1 Team is a Sports Bargain

NASCAR aims to divvy up its media rights with a new summer race package reportedly drawing interest from Amazon and Warner Bros. Discovery. “Front Office Sports reported in November that NASCAR was seeking a 10% to 15% increase in rights fees for its next cycle of media deals. The CW recently agreed to pay a reported $805 million for broadcast rights to the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2025-2031.”

NASCAR is also partnering with Netflix for a 2023 Cup playoffs documentary series to woo a new generation of fans. “Now, NASCAR is partnering with Words + Pictures — a production company co-founded by former ESPN executives — for a show following the 2023 Cup Series Playoffs, which begin next month. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also be an executive producer.”

Works are well underway at Queensland Australia’s Willowbank Raceway, part of the Ipswich Motorsport precinct, to upgrade the racing surface and facilities. “Primary civil works included the removal of over 800 metres of bitumen from the half-track point of the racing surface through to the gravel trap. This will be replaced by fresh concrete from the 200-metre mark of the track to 50 metres beyond the finish line, with the latest in motorsport asphalt to be laid through the braking area.”

Motorsports events taking place in New South Wales (NSW) will be overseen by Motorsport Australia, the state’s new sports controlling body. “The news of the new approval – announced by Liquor & Gaming NSW – will enable Motorsport Australia to enhance its powers in the sector, in addition to the already existing Competition Manipulation and Sport Wagering Policy as part of Motorsport Australia’s broader National Integrity Framework.”

The recently announced Supercars event at Taupo International Motorsport Park in New Zealand will be a boon for tourism, believes championship CEO Shane Howard. “It is a multi-year deal, so we’ve got a good commitment there,” Howard told Speedcafe. “We’ve got really good support, too, from the Taupo region and the mayor and the council.”

Business of Motorsport
Via Andrew Petcash

Andrew Petcash’s Profluence is truly a must-read if you are interested in the business of sport and his recent post on the state of athlete investing is quite an eye opener. If you are curious about any motorsport-related connections, look at who is behind APEX Capital.

Following the recent acquisition of Motorsport Network Media LLC (MSNM) by GMF Capital, the company has announced that it has appointed James Allen to the role of President, Motorsport Business and F1 Liaison. In this capacity James will lead MSNM’s business in Formula 1.

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

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

Business of Motorsport

The Business of Running a Race Team

Business of Motorsport

Williams team boss James Vowles believes setting long-term targets in Formula 1 is “remarkably meaningless“, preferring to focus on key pathways to drive progress at the team.

As I was interviewed to come here, I gave them a very clear view of how long it would take, and it’s a long time,” Vowles told Autosport in an exclusive interview. “That hasn’t changed. Same with Pat [Fry] when he joined. Pat was very clear to me on ‘This will take a while’. I said: ‘I know, and the board know as well’. So, you have to present sensible things but when you’re presenting any more than three years out it’s just into the unknown. Definitely at five, 100% at ten.”

Team News

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

Business of 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.