Liberty Media has ‘scenarios for zero races’

Michelle Foster
Melbourne Australian Grand Prix

Australian Grand Prix will happen in November, officials to "make sure".

Uncertain as to when the 2020 F1 season will begin, Liberty Media has “scenarios for zero races” and also for “15-18 races”.

The 2020 Formula 1 championship was meant to begin on March 15 with the Australian GP only for that to be cancelled at the 11th hour after McLaren withdrew when a team member tested positive.

Since then the list of races that have either been cancelled or postponed has grown to nine with France expected to make it 10.

This has Formula 1 in a difficult situation as the teams are losing money, as much as $2m per race missed.

Liberty Media, the sport’s owner, is keen to get the season underway as soon as possible but can only do so when it is safe to do so.

Both the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone have announced that they are open to behind-closed-door races which would allow Liberty to get the season going sooner rather than later.

CEO Greg Maffei says TV-only events are just one of the scenarios on the table.

“We have scenarios for zero races, anywhere from 15-18 races, races that begin with no fans present and only the teams, we really have a host of opportunities or challenges on all fronts,” Maffei told investors.

“Chase [Carey] and his team are presented with multiple options but until you know the timing how do you ask someone to move an existing race in place of another race [when] you don’t know when [the country is] open?

“If you run races with no live audience we will obviously have lower profitability and, maybe even no profitability, we may be capitalised sufficiently to handle that for 2020, but there are teams that will incur costs, particularly those that don’t have minimum guarantees from F1, and their major revenue sources is their share of the profits of F1.

“That’s one of the reasons why we need to be thoughtful of how we begin, that is not only good for us but good for the ecosystem.

“Chase and his team have run multiple scenarios. It’s not only when we are allowed by authorities, and in what format, but how does it work for the teams? How do we do something beneficial for fans but also doesn’t have the teams bankrupting themselves by conducting no profit or loss-making races?”

Speaking specifically about grands prix being run without spectators, Maffei concedes it could ultimately cost more than it is worth.

He added: “There’s a degree that we’re running profitable or not profitable races, but they [the teams] still need to incur all their costs of running their terms. It’s a challenge.”

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