Saudi Arabia, through its sovereign wealth fund PIF (Public Investment Fund), is said to be interested in selling the F1 team according to Bloomberg. An offer of US$20 billion (around €18.4 billion) is said to have been made, but rejected by Liberty. The figures and Saudi Arabia’s interest have not been officially confirmed, but the FIA has now commented on the rumours.
The US media agency Bloomberg recently caused a stir in the Formula One world by reporting that Saudi Arabia wanted to sell the Formula One team which caused FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem to issue a series of tweets on Monday in which he wrote that the FIA was “cautious” about the rumoured $20 billion price tag given to F1.
“Any potential buyer should use common sense, consider the good of the sport and have a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money,” he wrote,
Bin Sulayem calls reported offer “exaggerated”
“It is our duty to think about the future impact on promoters in terms of higher race fees and other commercial costs and any negative impact on fans,” the FIA president said.
FIA debunks rumours
Speaking to Motorsport.com, the FIA President said of the reported offer:
“Frankly, I think [the figure] is inflated. It is exaggerated. Let us talk with common sense: is [Formula One] worth that much?
If you pay that much money for a product, you will make it more expensive in some places “to get the money back”, he explains.
“I just look at the reasoning behind it, the logic behind it. Because you need a plan,” he says of possible buyers, adding:
“So far it’s just rumours anyway. But I think the FIA should also be part of these talks or give advice.”
“Because the FIA owns the championship,” he points out. Yet in 2001, under Max Mosley, the world governing body sold the commercial rights to Formula One in a one-off 100-year deal for just over $300 million.
For bin Sulayem, the ratio is not right. “If I can take $20 billion [for F1], then I think the FIA came up short,” he says, referring to the sale of commercial rights to Bernie Ecclestone at the time.
“Those figures just don’t make sense when you think about it,” he insists, explaining that he also wants “clarity” on the future of F1. A potential buyer would have to bring a plan and “not just the money”.
Neither F1 nor Saudi Arabia have officially commented on the speculation surrounding the sale.