FIA president issues unusual warning after Saudi interest in buying F1 emerges

Liberty Media bought Formula 1 for $4.6 billion in 2017, with the sport having grown tremendously ever since.

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem is “cautious” about a reported $20 billion offer from Saudi Arabia to buy Formula 1, with Bloomberg having reported that an attempt to buy the sport from Liberty Media was made last year.

According to Bloomberg, the offer was rejected by the current owners of Formula 1, who bought the sport themselves in 2017 for $4.6 billion.

Had Liberty Media accepted the deal, then it would’ve seen them make an astonishing $15.4 billion, with Ben Sulayem believing that the price tag was “inflated”.

The FIA president seemingly doesn’t believe that the sport is worth $20 billion, a figure that does seem somewhat ridiculous given that, as mentioned, it was sold for $4.6 billion six years ago.

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It was Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund which reportedly made the offer, with them already owning English Premier League side Newcastle United and having shares in several companies, including, Google, Amazon and Meta.

Following the report, Ben Sulayem has warned potential buyers that the sport will only be sold to a company with a “sustainable plan” and “not just a lot of money”, with the impact a sale could have on the fans being a primary concern for the FIA president.

A sale in the region of $20 billion will likely see hosting fees and therefore ticket prices skyrocket, with any company parting ways with that amount of money likely needing to make it back as fast as possible.

Whilst fees are already increasing gradually, something which is putting a strain on the European hosts, a sudden rise in hosting fees would likely drive the sport out of Europe, and into the likes of the Middle East and America.

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“As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1,” Ben Sulayem said on Twitter.

“Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.

“It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans,” Ben Sulayem added.