Mexico, Russia defend Liberty following criticism

Date published: January 30 2019

Mexico, Russia defend Liberty following 'toothless' criticism

The organisers of the Mexican and Russian Grands Prix have distanced themselves from FOPA’s “toothless” criticism of Formula 1 owners, Liberty Media.

FOPA, the Formula One Promoters’ Association, joined forced earlier this week to release a statement questioning Liberty’s running of the sport.

Representatives from 16 of this year’s 21 race venues stated that they are against changes that Liberty Media have brought in since taking over F1 at the start of 2017.

“It is not in the long term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting,” read their statement.

“There is a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation;

“New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events although the association is encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective venues.”

However, not all the venues were involved or agree with FOPA’s view.

Promoters of the Mexican Grand Prix backed Liberty Media saying: “Following the statement made by the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA), the F1 Gran Premio de Mexico promoters want to express their sympathy with the promoters from other countries, understanding that each country and race is different.

“In addition, the Mexican Grand Prix’s promoters welcome the ongoing collaboration and good relationships with the rest of the promoters.

“However, F1 Gran Premio de Mexico did not participate in said meeting and appreciate the work that the new owners of F1 are doing to understand the promoters’ requirements and concerns, as well as those from the fans.

“The Mexican Grand Prix’s promoters recognise that the new administration of F1 has listened and been sensitive to their concerns, with both parties working very closely together.

“As a result, they do not agree with what was released by the Formula One Promoters’ Association on their behalf.

“The Mexican promoters and F1 continue the negotiations regarding the renewal of the F1 Gran Premio de Mexico contract in private.”

Meanwhile Russia, who are not a part of FOPA along with China, Bahrian, Japan and Abu Dhabi, said they do not support FOPA’s view point.

“The statement is fairly toothless, because all the issues indicated there, in this statement, they are being resolved one way or another in the current format of communication with Liberty,” Sergey Vorobyev, the deputy general director of Sochi F1 promoter Rosgonki, told Autosport.

“It was at the initiative of Liberty that all the promoters gathered in London, specifically to discuss common matters with the participation of Liberty Media.

“I do not see the need for a separate assembly of some promoters.

“I do not share the position of the current chairman of the FOPA Association, [Silverstone’s managing director] Stuart Pringle.

“In his comments – public comments for the media – he has very frequently made personal criticisms of Liberty’s leadership and our whole common sport.

“I don’t believe this approach to be constructive, and therefore we, along with several other grands prix – and I am sure there will be more of us in the coming days, weeks and months – are not members of FOPA.”

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