FIA president Jean Todt has warned the competing F1 teams – and any commercial partners who want to get involved in the future running of the sport – that they may be putting the cart before the horse when it comes to supporting plans for current commercial rights holder CVC Capital Partners to sell out to a new consortium. Todt’s observations come at the end of a month of speculative frenzy over whether Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, together with Italian investment consortium EXOR, might get together to make CVC an offer it cannot refuse.
Furthermore, according to the Speed.com website, the New York-based Raine Group LLC – one of whose investors is the Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala investment group, which owns a stake in Mercedes Grand Prix, reportedly has around $500m to spend on sports and entertainment investments.
“The FIA is the regulator of the sport and is not involved with commercial matters,” Todt made clear last weekend.
“F1 commercial rights belong to CVC, and from what I know, CVC has no intention to sell. If it will be true in five years, ten years, honestly it's not a question for me, it's a question for CVC. “If one day, CVC decide that they want to sell the rights they have for the commercial organisation of F1, as President of the FIA– if I am still by then the president – I need to speak with my people in the FIA to give the agreement whether we're happy with the people who will take over or we are not happy.
“I feel it's strange [for someone] to say 'we want to buy' before [they] know it's for sale. I think the first action would be for whoever is keen to take over the commercial rights to find out with CVC what is the situation. First, CVC must be willing to sell – and for the time being, CVC doesn't want to sell.”
That's not the same as saying 'CVC is not for sale' of course. In and around F1, everything is potentially for sale.
It's just determining the price, which is the tricky bit.