F1 CEO Chase Carey hits back at Fopa criticism

American says Liberty Media will not change approach despite race promoters’ concern.

F1 CEO Chase Carey hits back at Fopa criticism

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Formula One chief executive Chase Carey has hit back at “strange” criticism of the series’ direction under Liberty Media, insisting the sport’s owners will not change their approach.

The Formula One Promoters Association (Fopa), which represents 16 of the 21 Grand Prix venues, issued a three-point statement last week following a meeting with Formula One chiefs in London. Seeking ‘a more collaborative approach’, the promoters highlighted the series’ migration from free-to-air TV, a lack of clarity on new initiatives and concern over plans to add new races to the calendar as major areas of concern.

Carey, however, said it is “part of life” that some race venues will be unsatisfied, adding that the “vast majority” are still fully behind Liberty’s plans for Formula One’s future. 

“I think, realistically, if you get 21 in a room you are bound to find a couple who have something to complain about,” said Carey, speaking to ESPN.

“In all honestly, I thought the meeting [with race promoters] was incredibly positive. I thought there was tremendous support from the vast majority and they have a great appreciation for what we are doing.”

Since assuming control of Formula One from Bernie Ecclestone in 2017, Liberty has made it a priority to revolutionise the way the sport is presented, resulting in the launch of the series’ own new over-the-top (OTT) service and esports series, while it has also runs its first ever marketing campaign and added a new Grand Prix in Vietnam.

So far, Liberty’s approach appears to be reaping benefits, with Formula One recording a growth in audience figures across both digital and TV platforms during the 2018 season, fuelling Carey’s belief that the series is on the right path.

“The fact that a few of them wanted to find something to complain about, that's life,” Carey added. “It's not going to change what we are doing, and by a large majority the promoters have been supportive and are excited about what we are doing.

“They believe the sport, for them and in general, is in a much better place than it was a few years ago and is going in the right direction, and we have got a list of places we can't accommodate [on the calendar] that we would like to add to the sport.

“It's part of life, you are going to find a bunch of people who have something to complain about and are going to make noise. We will go forward and do what we are doing, which I think we feel good about.

“I addressed all three [concerns at the promoters' conference], but realistically no-one brought any of them up -- they just put it out in a press release, which was a little strange.”

Formula One announced on Tuesday that it had secured the long-term future of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a new contract running until 2023. However, the contracts for five major races - Britain, Italy, Spain, Germany and Mexico - are up for renewal at the end of the upcoming 2019 season.