Matters of Moment, July 2011

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Pie in the sky? Perhaps not…

Formula 1 is “currently” not for sale. So says CVC Capital Partners, the private equity firm which owns a 100-year lease on the commercial rights of Grand Prix racing. But in the future? CVC exists to make money and that is the only reason it has bought into F1. Consider the old adage that everything is for sale at the right price. By the nature of its business, it’s hardly likely that CVC will see out the full term of its lease given its nominal and extreme length — so of course F1 is for sale.

So should we really take seriously a joint bid for the sport by a consortium fronted by media giant News Corporation and Exor, an Italian investment company that essentially owns Ferrari? Absolutely we should, even if we are only at the beginning of what will be a drawn out process of rumour, negotiation and political manoeuvring.

As you can read in The Motor Sport Month overleaf and in Nigel Roebuck’s Reflections on page 26, there are too many questions to draw real conclusions on this one right now, although the teams and manufacturers are sniffing a bargaining tool to grab more control of the sport and its revenues. But the main question we can legitimately ask is, would it be a positive thing for a media company to run F1?

The answer is yes, probably — but it could make for some sticky problems. News Corp, through its BSkyB TV empire, has redefined the global power and reach of sport, as we have seen most obviously with English football, which was in poor health before the advent of the Premier League. BSkyB raised the game to new levels because it had an agenda to invest, and it could do the same for motor racing — in polar opposite to CVC. The vulgarities and excesses of the Premiership are the price football has paid — but then Grand Prix racing is already bursting with such indulgence, so no change there!

Our reservations are that a consortium-led F1 would be vulnerable to the many vested interests that would be holding the keys. Would the team unity we see existing within the Formula One Teams’ Association really survive? And of course with BSkyB comes the fear of losing free-to-air TV coverage. As Bernie Ecclestone found to his cost with his digital TV project in the late 1990s, subscription-only doesn’t work for F1. We spare a thought too for the BBC, which has done such an excellent job with its coverage these past few seasons. Its contribution should not be forgotten in the coming year, once negotiations truly kick in.

So who will be the pivotal player in this game? He’s only an employee of CVC these days, but Ecclestone will have a few more hands to play before he’s finished. Meanwhile, much rests on the FIA president. Jean Todt’s governing body has the right of veto on any sale. If he blocks the Murdoch family’s ambitions, Luca di Montezemolo’s threat of a breakaway might gather true pace. Yes, we’ve heard it before and one always expects a deal to be struck in the end. But Todt vs Montezemolo? There’s no love lost between Ferrari’s old sporting director and his former boss. Expect fireworks before the end of 2012.

The wraps are off McLaren’s new GT3 racer (see p124), while Jaguar’s C-X75 supercar developed with Williams will also hit the track some time after its 2013 launch. You can see where it’s heading, can’t you? It’s got to be Le Mans. As many of you have told us recently, the 24 Hours continues to inspire more than any other modern race. The world’s biggest car giants clearly share your enthusiasm. From where we’re standing, Le Mans is already great — and it’s only going to get better.
Damien Smith, Editor

Related articles

Related products