FIA president blasts reports of selling F1 for $20bn: 'Apply common sense'

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has called for "common sense" after reports emerged that Liberty Media had rejected a staggering $20 billion bid from Saudi Arabi's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to purchase Formula 1.

Over the weekend, financial publication Bloomberg published a report suggesting the PIF had made an enormous $20bn bid to take over the rights to F1, which Liberty Media rejected.

It would represent a massive return on investment for the American corporation, which bought the sport in 2017 for $4.6bn, and immediately began expanding its audience through various campaigns, such as requiring drivers to be active on social media and launching the behind-the-scenes Netflix series Drive to Survive.

There is no doubt F1 is bigger and better than it was in 2017, especially in key regions like the USA. But Ben Sulayem is concerned that the bid of $20bn is already inflated, so if the PIF comes back with increased offers in the future, that situation will just worsen.

Mohammed Ben Sulayem,f1,formula 1,formula one
Mohammed Ben Sulayem

All-round impact

Ben Sulayem is well aware that if F1 is sold, especially for an overly inflated price, it will have an impact on the whole sport, from race hosting fees to ticket prices for fans.

"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," Ben Sulayem wrote on Twitter.

"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."

The PIF have a clear strategy of investing in sport around the world with the acquisition of Premier League club Newcastle United in 2021, as well as launching the breakaway LIV Golf series and hosting any number of boxing title fights in Saudi Arabia.

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