Formula 1's governing body the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has welcomed the sale of the sport to American media company Liberty Media Corporation.
The deal, which is estimated to be valued at $8.4 billion (£6.3 billion), could herald the departure of long-standing F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
In an official statement, 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.
"As motor sport’s governing body and regulator we acknowledge Liberty Media’s wide expertise in these fields and we look forward to working in close partnership with them in the future in order to further develop Formula One and bring it to new generations of motor sport enthusiasts around the world.”
F1 is currently controlled by CVC Capital Partners, a private equity group that has a 35% stake in Delta Topco, the company that owns the Formula One Group, which includes Formula One Management (FOM) and Formula One Administration (FOA).
Speculation at the weekend’s Italian Grand Prix – fuelled by Ecclestone (pictured below) in an interview with German magazine Auto Motor und Sport – suggested CVC was preparing to sell its stake to Liberty Media Corporation. The US firm is owned by American tycoon John Malone.
According to Sky Sports, the deal would signal the start of Liberty’s plan to acquire 100% of F1 shares, subject to approval from the FIA and legislators, and to publicly list F1 on the New York stock exchange. The Financial Times has said the initial deal would enable Liberty Media to acquire 10-15% of F1, with an agreement to take full control in the future.
Sky has said media executive Chase Carey, who has close ties to Rupert Murdoch, will be named as chairman of F1 once the deal is confirmed. He would replace Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman for the past two years and former CEO of Nestlé, who is expected to stay on the board as a non-executive director.