Formula One set for major changes after multibillion-dollar takeover


PARIS: It may not require an overnight emergency operation, but Formula One will surely undergo some serious life-affirming surgery in the years ahead following this week s multibillion-dollar takeover.
A revised and probably expanded calendar that may include more races in Asia and the Americas could see this year s record 21-race schedule enlarged to a bumper 25 grands prix.
The teams and fans are expected to be much more involved and micro-targeted in a restructured business that is likely also to re-evaluate the points structure and the racing to ensure a massive overhaul of the sport s entertainment value, experts say.
Formula One s current limited activity in social and digital media is also expected to be ramped up to make the sport more appealing to the next generation of fans, amid fears it is failing to get younger viewers on side.
US billionaire John Malone s Liberty Media, which says it has struck an agreement to buy out Formula One s parent company, wants to do all this without eroding the sport s exclusive brand value.
“Formula One is a key player in the high-growth market for live, premium sports rights. There is an increasing demand from broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors who want access to F1 s mass global live audiences and attractive demographics,” said Chase Carey, named as the sport s new chairman.
This is unlikely to become a new area of expertise for the sport s long-serving ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, who will be 86 next month, and his authority and out-sized influence will wane as the business becomes more corporate under Carey, the 21st Century Fox vice-chairman.
Ecclestone was retained as chief executive and the main office remains in London.
The takeover that values the sport at $8 billion has — crucially — been welcomed by the teams, with heavyweights McLaren on Friday describing Liberty s move as “a positive step”.
The FIA, motorsport s governing body, also hailed the move.
FIA president Jean Todt said: “While it remains to be seen how this acquisition will influence the promotion of the FIA Formula One championship, we welcome this long-term investment in Formula One by a company that has such a broad portfolio of sports, media and entertainment businesses.”
Liberty has said it will work closely with teams to ensure their income increases with the sport s growth in popularity.