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F1 sends incendiary letter to FIA after ‘inflated price tag’ claim

Formula 1 bosses have accused FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “unacceptable” interference in the alleged sport’s sale.

Following reports of Saudi Arabia’s $20bn (£16.3bn) bid to buy F1’s commercial rights, Ben Sulayem expressed concern on Twitter about the potential consequences of F1’s commercial rights. takeovers “hype” such as higher ticket prices for fans if new owners try to recoup their investment.

He added that a potential F1 buyer should “come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.”

Sky Sports News revealed on Monday his remarks angered senior F1 officials and now legal bosses have written to the FIA ​​warning that Ben Sulayem’s tweets have “interfered with the rights us in an unacceptable way”

In a letter first reported by sky news, but also seen by Sky Sports News, F1 general counsel, Sacha Woodward Hill, and Renee Wilm, legal and administrative director of Freedom Communication Joint Stock CompanyF1’s controlling shareholder has accused the FIA ​​- motorsport’s governing body – of straying beyond its limits.

The letter has also been sent to all 10 F1 teams. Sky Sports News contacted the FIA ​​for a response but received no comment.

Ben Sulayem’s comments come in response to a report last week by Bloomberg News that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund has probed a $20 billion buyout bid for the sport in 2022.

Neither F1 nor the Saudi Public Investment Fund would comment on the report.

The letter warns the FIA ​​that “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA ​​Formula One World Championship” under the 100-year agreement.

“Furthermore, the FIA ​​has made a clear commitment that it will not do anything to the detriment of the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights.

“We consider those comments, made from the FIA ​​president’s official social media account, to interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”

The response to Ben Sulayem’s comments comes at a time of growing tension between F1 and its governing body.

The letter from Woodward Hill and Wilm also suggests, implicit in the FIA ​​president’s remarks, “that any potential buyer of the Formula 1 business must consult with the FIA. is wrong.”

It added that Ben Sulayem “passed through[ped] limit of deposits of the FIA,” stating that “any person or entity that comments on the value of a listed entity or its subsidiaries, in particular claims or implies ownership insider knowledge while doing so, risks causing significant damage to the shareholders and investors of that entity, not to mention the possibility of exposure to severe legal consequences. important.”

“To the extent that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA ​​could be liable as a result.”

contact by sky news, An F1 spokesman declined to comment.

F1 teams question FIA president’s position after latest disagreements

Sky Sports News’ Craig Slater analysis…

On the eve of the 2023 season, this is a major conflict in the world of top sports.

Formula 1 is owned by an American company, Liberty Media, and is a listed company. If someone in the position of FIA president makes an observation about what the potential match value is, it could be detrimental to the company’s trade.

This is just one of a number of issues that during the tenure of Mohammed Ben Sulayem have plagued not only F1 but also a number of teams.

I’ve reached out to several F1 teams and they have different views on what went on this week.

A senior figure told me there was a discussion among several groups about how long Mohammed Ben Sulayem could continue this work.

There are questions raised about his tenure as the relationship (relationship) has become increasingly fractured between the regulator and the franchise owner, and by extension the groups.

It’s a leadership style as much as anything else. It all stemmed from an uneasiness that some in the sport had, about the arrangement the FIA ​​(then headed by Max Mosley) more than a decade ago sold the franchise for 100 years. years for an organization then run by Bernie Ecclestone to exploit commercial rights.

At the time, it was felt that it was too cheap to rent, and some people saw Mohammed Ben Sulayem gesturing publicly that he was uncomfortable with the arrangement.

This goes deep and is a historical issue that regulators and franchise owners have had to contend with.

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