The relationship between Formula 1 and the International Automobile Federation, the FIA, is going through a very tense moment. After years in which the parties understood each other well, despite certain sporadic disagreements, things took a new direction since the beginning of 2022. The last chapter came this week, when the FIA got ahead of F1 and, without prior notice, released the calendar of the 2023 season unilaterally.
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Last Tuesday, 20 September, the FIA took advantage of the early hours of the morning to publicize the new calendar. More than just a set of dates, it showed the expectation of the longest championship in history and with news such as the return of the Chinese GP, the triple rounds and the Las Vegas GP on a Saturday. In recent years, the FIA and Liberty Media were preparing a joint press release to formally present the calendar for the following year.
According to the Italian version of the Motorsport website, the officialization of the FIA came as a surprise to the Formula 1 offices in London. Stefano Domenicali’s team, executive director of F1, only learned of the entity’s intentions to advance the disclosure when the statement was triggered.
The joint officialization is part of an agreement between the two sides since the approval of the dates needs the approval and consolidation of the FIA, but all the formatting work, choice of venues, negotiations with promoters and general adjustments is done by Liberty Media, owner of F1. So there is a joint effort. The situation created yet another institutional headache, as F1 had to speak up hours later.
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As much as the FIA did not always agree on everything with F1 in the years that Jean Todt was in the presidency, the relationship was always under control both with Liberty and when Bernie Ecclestone was still running the series. But Todt’s last term came to an end in December 2021 and, as he had already been in the FIA presidency for 12 years, he was unable to be re-elected. The new president, Mohammed Ben Sulayem, has another type of deal with the category.
At the beginning of the year, the first public grievance between the two parties came with regard to sprint races. After a lot of panning last year, Liberty Media believed it had a majority in votes to approve the increase from three to six sprint races in 2022, but the FIA changed its mind and pulled out of the deal at the last minute. Publicly, he cited logistical challenges for the increase, but what is known is that the FIA would like to receive more of the revenue that the extra races would bring.
Since then, other things have happened and reinforce that, in the episode of the calendar, the FIA’s intention is to put its foot down and show that it has more power and will not be held hostage by whoever holds the commercial rights to Formula 1. The FIA wants to , in future negotiations, receive most of the revenue generated by the sale of the F1 rights. In the last official balance sheet, in 2020, the FIA made a profit of just € 2.1 million – something that shows that expenses and revenues are practically the same today. The Federation is not swimming in cash.
In addition to the sprint race and calendar issues, the FIA has instituted a new race driving format for 2022 after all the wear and tear from the mistakes of the Michael Masi-led team last year, something the Federation believes has run its course and scratched. the organization’s image. But the new system has not been successful either. Cases such as the requirement that the pilots remove jewelry and the ignored that the race direction gave the pilots in Miami for protection in a dangerous part of the track and where, later, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon ended up having accidents, in fact, got worse. all.
The FIA did not like the damage to the image caused mainly by the past championship and started to try to show that they are in charge. It is true, however, that the Federation would be in a dramatic financial situation were it not for the amount it receives annually from F1 under the current Concorde Agreement. And F1’s complaints also persist: either because of the bosses’ raptures, the misunderstandings in the direction of the race or in relation to the budget ceiling, one of the most remarkable victories of the Todt Era. It remains to be seen how far the Cold War between FIA and F1 goes.
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