F1 sends a letter to the FIA criticizing President Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s UNACCEPTABLE remarks
FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem
Recently, a report from Bloomberg emerged that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the so-called Public Investment Fund, had considered attempting to buy Formula 1. This deal faltered as Liberty Media were unwilling to sell, but if they should change their mind, the PIF, which also (majority) owns English Premier League club Newcastle United, will be a prime party for a sale. F1’s apparently valued at $20 billion by the PIF, something FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem called ‘inflated’.
Speaking for the FIA, Ben Sulayem said that the organization is ‘cautious’ about that price tag. Further, he advised any potential buyers (including the PIF) to utilize ‘common sense’, and come in with a good plan – not just money. The Emirati has been very vocal during his presidency, especially more so during this particular winter break. But this may have been a step too far. Neither F1, or the PIF (Saudi Arabia) commented on the matter – but Ben Sulayem did.
The relationship between the FIA and Formula 1 has been ‘rocky’ recently, to say the least. Last year, there had been reports that F1 (and the teams) were unhappy with the FIA ‘stamping its authority’ (so to say). Now, as reported by Sky Sports, F1’s bosses were unhappy with Ben Sulayem’s comments, and sent a letter to the FIA making their displeasure known.
Formula 1’s letter to the FIA
The letter first asserted Formula 1’s ‘exclusive right’ to exploit the commercial rights of the world championship, bring up a 100-year deal pertaining to the same issue. The letter was by Ms Woodward Hill and Ms Wilm, and reads: “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship,”
Formula 1’s position is that FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem‘s remarks interfere with its ‘rights’ in an ‘unacceptable way’: “Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”
The letter further adds that Ben Sulayem: “overstep[ped] the bounds of the FIA’s remit,” and: “Any individual or organisation commenting on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, especially claiming or implying possession of inside knowledge while doing so, risks causing substantial damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences. To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this situation develops further. As mentioned earlier, the relationship between the FIA and F1 is already considered to be ‘rocky’.It may be time for some damage control. The governing body fighting the owners isn’t a good sign for the future of the sport. and the gap needs to bridged as soon as possible.
In case you missed it:
- “The right structure with the right people,” Mohammed Ben Sulayem shares his vision as big changes shake up the structure at FIA
- FIA chief Mohammed Ben Sulayem blames ‘toxic social media’ for Michael Masi’s exit