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F1 faces the price of success in new Concorde talks

The other big issue on the agenda is the number of races with F1 now at a record 23 events in the season with November’s Las Vegas Grand Prix added to the circuit.

This season would have reached 24 races if the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai had returned and while there are also no shortage of potential venues pushing for an event, the teams have been vocal in insisting the sport is at its limit.

“I think we need stabilisation. Don’t do more, stabilise where we are now,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

Horner also said that “23 races is a gruelling schedule for everybody... we are at the point of saturation”. AFP

MIAMI – Formula One teams are set to start talks with the sport’s governing body FIA and owners on a new collective agreement, with wrangles over a number of thorny issues expected as the sport faces up to the price of success.

The current Concorde Agreement, between the three parties, runs until 2025 and often deals have only been secured at the last minute or after a period without a formal agreement.

But Greg Maffei, chief executive of Liberty Media, the American owners of Formula One, said last week he wanted to begin talks now.

“We haven’t really started talking properly but that’s going to happen soon,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, who hopes the talks will be kept behind closed doors.

“It should happen in a constructive way, not maybe live-broadcasted and creating controversy.”

Given the history of the usually very public debates around the Concorde talks, that may be wishful thinking from the Austrian, however.

While F1 is enjoying a boom, enhanced by the success of the Netflix series “Drive to Survive”, that very popularity is creating new issues that the talks will need to resolve.

There are understood to be several groups keen to enter the sport with established US motor sport operation Andretti teaming up with General Motors to propose an Andretti Cadillac Team.

That bid is being headed by Michael Andretti, a former F1 driver and son of Mario Andretti, F1 world champion in 1978.

The Andretti family’s rich history in motor racing combined with General Motors and the Cadillac brand, makes the proposed team an attractive proposition but as always in F1, there will be wrangling over the money.

Currently the 10 teams divide up the “prize fund” among themselves and the existing agreement calls for a separate “dilution fee” of US$200 million (S$265 million) to be paid by any new entry.

“As with all these things, it ultimately boils down to... if the teams are perceived to be diluting their payments to accommodate it, of course it’s not going to sit that well,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

It would be no surprise if the teams push for the entry fee to be raised significantly in the new agreement.

Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali hinted recently that the “anti-dilution” fee could rise, with some media reports saying the teams want to see the fee raised as high as US$600 million.