The CEO of Liberty Media, Greg Maffei, has suggested that F1’s commercial rights holder has no plans to sell Formula 1 to Saudi Arabia despite previous rumours suggesting the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund was willing to pay upwards of $20 billion for the championship.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia already has a growing presence within Formula 1, with the country having hosted the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit since 2021.
Further work is already underway to expand its presence on the calendar with a second race in Qiddya, while Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil and gas company, Aramco, has continued to build on increasing involvement in the sport since 2020.
According to Bloomberg, the hefty $20 billion bid for Formula 1 was made in 2022, with Saudi Arabia “open to raising it.”
Speculation around the bid surfaced when FIA president Mohammad Ben Sulayem made a surprise statement calling for any potential buyer to be “cautious of inflated price tags of $20 billion being put on F1.”
He said that “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,” suggesting that such a move could have an adverse effect on fans.
Maffei though, speaking at the MoffettNathanson Technology, Media and Telecom conference, hit the brakes on any suggestion that Liberty Media were readying to offload F1.
“Is there any chance we’re going to sell this thing and incur corporate tax? That should stop any discussion that anyone says that our friends, the Saudis, are going to buy it next week or something like that?” Maffei insisted.
“If anybody knows us, they should know that’s just not in our cards.
“We are very enthused about where F1 is now but [also] where it’s going as well. You look at the big revenue streams there, all have good direction.
“In broadcasting, we have increased fans and we have increased distributors who want to push the product, including new digital distributors and the like. We have promoters who are our partners.”