The owner of Formula 1 has accused FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem of “interfering” with the sport’s commercial rights in an “unacceptable manner” after he commented on F1’s merits on Twitter .
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Ben Sulayem reacted to a Bloomberg report that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was considering a $20 billion bid to buy F1.
The FIA president described the figure as an “inflated price tag” and said it was the FIA’s duty to consider the impact such a valuation could have on race promoters and fans. .
As custodian of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organization, is cautious about the alleged inflated prices of up to $20 billion being put into F1. (1/3)
– Mohammed Ben Sulayem (@Ben_Sulayem) January 23, 2023
F1’s legal heads and its owner, Liberty Media, responded to Ben Sulayem’s tweets by sending a letter to the FIA, excerpts of which were published by sky newssaid that his comment was “beyond[ped] limits of deposits of the FIA”.
It added: “Commenting the value of a listed entity, especially one that claims or implies possession of insider knowledge in doing so, carries the risk of material injury to shareholders. its shareholders and investors, not to mention the potential for serious legal consequences.
“To the extent that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA could be liable as a result.”
F1’s commercial rights, separated from the management aspect of the sport under a 100-year lease, were purchased by Liberty Media in 2017 for $4.4 billion.
F1’s letter added that, under the terms of the 100-year lease, “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship.
“Moreover, 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 letter also makes suggestions that the FIA will have a say in selling Formula 1 to a new owner if Liberty Media chooses to sell it.
“The circumstances under which the FIA would have any role in changing control of the F1 team are very limited,” it added.
“Any suggestion or implication to the contrary, or that any potential buyer of the F1 business must consult the FIA, is false.”
F1 and the FIA declined to comment on the letter when contacted by ESPN.