Formula 1 bosses have reportedly sent a letter to the FIA taking aim at the comments the governing body’s president Mohammed Ben Sulayem made on social media this week.
Ben Sulayem directed attention to a rumour that the Saudi Arabian wealth fund had been in talks with the sport over a $20 billion buyout.
He stated that it was an “inflated” price and called on any potential suitor to use common sense in its negotiations.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
In response, Sky News and the BBC report that F1’s general counsel, Sacha Woodward Hill, and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media Corporation, have accused the FIA over overstepping its remit.
The letter argues that Ben Sulayem “interfered with our [commercial] rights in an unacceptable manner” when referring to an “alleged inflated price tag of $20bn”.
The letter was forward to F1 teams on Tuesday and highlighted that “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship” under a 100-year deal.
It adds: “Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights.
“We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”
The letter also says that the suggestion “that any potential purchaser of the Formula 1 business is required to consult with the FIA is wrong”.
It accused Ben Sulayem of “overstep[ping] the bounds of the FIA’s remit” and that “any individual or organisation commenting on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, especially claiming or implying possession of inside knowledge while doing so, risks causing substantial damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences”.
“To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result.”