F1 Business Diary 2016: the Belgian Grand Prix

Once more, Mercedes were the team to keep an eye on at Spa-Francorchamps, with Lewis Hamilton managing an impressive third place having started 21st on the grid.

Once more, Mercedes were the team to keep an eye on at Spa-Francorchamps, with Lewis Hamilton managing an impressive third place having started 21st on the grid. His teammate, Nico Rosberg, claimed the victory, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo securing second, cementing his place at third in the drivers’ championship.

The race was somewhat overshadowed by a violent crash for Renault’s Kevin Magnusson, who was taken to hospital after colliding with the barriers at 180mph. Magnusson later emerged unscathed, and is scheduled to race in Italy next week. Elsewhere, the youthful Max Verstappen was heavily criticised for his part in an incident with Kimi Raikkonen, as the ongoing feud between Formula One’s oldest and youngest drivers continues, while the much maligned Fernando Alonso continued his troubled time with McLaren’s Honda engine.

With drama aplenty on the track, here SportsPro charts the weekend’s industry stories off it.

Profits in top gear

While the rumours of a takeover of Formula One appear to be troubling many of the sport’s longstanding fans, it appears the same cannot be said for its financials. The Telegraph has reported that Luxembourg-based company Delta 2, the parent company behind Formula One, has seen its profits surge in the last year, as a result of the falling value of sterling.

Amid reports that Formula One is set to be bought out, with American billionaire John Malone being cited as a possible suitor in what would be a US$8.5 billion deal, Delta 2 released its annual accounts, in which it showed that operating profits had increased from US$76.3 million to US$329.9 million in the last year alone. The rise is down to the fact that many of Formula One’s costs are calculated in pounds, so as the value of sterling falls, Formula One receives a better return on the dollars coming in as revenue. The accounts showed that total costs for the year had dropped by US$77.5 million.

In the accounts, the largest cash generator was ascribed to race hosting fees, coming to a reported US$715 million annually. The accounts show that Mexican live events company CIE, as well as the Mexican federal government, paid US$72 million for the rights to host the Mexican Grand Prix in 2015, in a deal that will continue to pay out annually for a further five years. With this figure only likely to continue to rise, any suitor for Formula One’s takeover must surely be licking their lips.


Rosso recruitment

Formula One team Scuderia Toro Rosso agreed a parternship with Gi Group, an Italian employment agency.

The company, headquartered in Milan, became the Red Bull feeder team's official human resources partner, and will see its logo placed on the race suits and race underwear of team drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat for the next three years.

As the partnership moves forward, Gi Group will assist Toro Rosso in developing its selection and recruitment processes for its team, particularly in the engineering department. The two will also collaborate on an initiative known as ‘Formula Future’, aimed to recruit and train young graduates into the world of motorsport.

“We are very proud to have signed this partnership agreement with Scuderia Toro Rosso, a company which, like Gi Group, promotes Italian excellence around the world,” said Stefano Colli-Lanzi, Gi Group chief executive. “We believe that, thanks to the know-how of both companies, this partnership will be able to enhance the chances of youngsters interested in embarking on a career in the very competitive and technological environment of Formula 1.”

Toro Rosso are currently seventh in the constructors' championship, though picked up no points in Belgium, where Kvyat finished 14th and Sainz was forced to retire.


F1 goes African

African broadcaster Econet Media agreed a deal to air Formula One throughout sub-Saharan Africa on its Kwesé Sports channels, in a first for the sport.

The three and a half year deal with Formula One World Championship Limited will see free-to-air channel Kwesé Free Sports broadcast English language coverage of every race throughout sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

The agreement includes 19 sub-Saharan nations, including Eritrea, Lesotho and Rwanda.

“Econet Media, through our Kwesé portfolio, remains committed to bringing premium sporting content to viewers,” said Econet chief executive Joseph Hundah.

“We are thrilled to bring African views the latest from the Formula One circuits, and want to become a hub for the very best in global and local sports content.”

Econet have signed a range of sports-focused rights deals in recent months, netting the Premier League, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and Brazilian soccer, among a number of regional African sports properties.


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