Carey and Bratches have negotiated some new contracts, with circuits and TV companies, the organisation has moved into new offices and it has been recruiting heavily, creating a proper corporate structure. The firm’s philosophy is to grow the sport and get everyone else to support it. The men in charge are thinking strategically and collaboratively – and that is something the teams need to get used to, after years of Ecclestone’s ‘divide and conquer’ techniques.
“We have been actively engaged with all teams to shape a shared vision for the sport that will create real value for all stakeholders,” Carey says. “We are pleased with the collaborative discussions we are having.
These discussions will take time, but we appreciate their receptivity towards further aligning our incentives for the long-term benefit of the sport.”
Carey talks a language that is often confusing for the F1 community, but there is no doubt that he knows what he is doing. He has made it very clear that Liberty is not overly keen on subscription TV, unless the markets support it, which is not the case in many of F1’s heartlands. He believes that the sport has suffered from switching away from free-to-air TV coverage. Liberty is aiming to change that and get F1 back on major TV channels, where it is possible.
At the same time, there is no doubt that there is a plan to create what is known as ‘over-the-top content’, which will be made available via the internet direct to fans, rather than going through TV, cable and satellite companies. This will cost money, no doubt, but given the number of F1 fans in the world, it will reap huge benefits, while many traditional TV deals will nonetheless stay in place. There is no single answer as to how content will be delivered to fans.
“From the outset, we have focused on getting fans closer to the action and broadening the appeal of the sport,” says Bratches. “There is a lot of potential to grow the sport, but if we are going to build up interest in F1 in the US, we need to offer the fans more opportunities to get excited about F1. So we want more races in the US. We also want to have six races in the US time zones, which can all be broadcast live to US consumers at hours that make sense. Right now, we have four: Austin, Canada, Mexico and Brazil.”