In the history of Formula 1, disputes between the FIA and the holder of commercial rights are not new, since coexistence between two bodies of power is never easy.
Since the FIA presidency passed to Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the governing body has had to grapple with some thorny F1-related issues, starting with the most famous case of ‘Michael Masi’. Since then, the tension between the International Federation and Liberty Media, owner of the commercial rights of the category, has been noted.
Ben Sulayem ‘s attitude suggests a clear desire to draw a very precise line between what is the responsibility of the FIA and what is the responsibility of the commercial rights holder, even in minor situations.
An example of this took place last Tuesday, September 20, when the FIA issued a press release with the calendar of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship.
By tradition, Liberty Media and the FIA had always sent a joint statement, because although it is true that the approval of the calendar is an area of competence of the FIA, it is also true that its preparation is the result of a long process carried out by Liberty Media, who is in charge of negotiating with the promoters of each grand prize.
On this occasion, the FIA did not inform Liberty Media of the sending of the calendar, so the staff under the direction of Stefano Domenicali learned of the officialization without prior notice.
Ben Sulayem wanted to mark his territory with a very sibylline statement, (“The new races and the presence of traditional events underscores the good management of the sport by the FIA”) claiming a job really done by Liberty.
The FIA (via the World Council) has the final say on calendar approval, but in fact in recent years the World Council has seemed more like an office simply putting the stamp on the request of the governing body.
Something is changing, and that should not necessarily be negative if the institutional power of the FIA serves to guarantee the fundamental values of the category.
However, until now there have been some curious positions, from the controversy of the jewelry worn by the pilots, to the indifference after the complaints of Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon in Miami about the protections of turn 14 or the rejection of an increase in the of sprint races, initially motivated by a possible increase in costs for the FIA itself.
The governing body wants to mark its territory but, above all, it demands to take a greater part of the financial income that Liberty Media obtains through the sale of commercial rights.
In the economic field, the FIA is not going through its best moment, in fact, its budgets are in deficit, and this is probably one of the main changes that Ben Sulayem wants to make as president of the federation.
It is also true that without the contributions that Formula 1 guarantees each year, they would run the risk of not having the necessary funds for their own survival, so it is a delicate game.
What Formula 1 complains about (in this case not only Liberty Media, but a large part of the paddock) is the lack of effectiveness in certain contexts by the FIA. Aside from the handling of the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the most recent case is the controversial Italian Grand Prix finish, both handled dubiously by governing body staff.
On the other hand, the fact of wanting to bypass the Formula 1 Commission in the matter of “TD39” was not well received by most of the teams, as was the regulation that was introduced in Canada bypassing even the World Racing Council. Motor Sport.
In addition, there is another crucial aspect, and that is the budget cap control system, which according to some teams, seems to be deficient at the moment.
We will see how events unfold in the coming months and if these darts continue or, on the contrary, both reach an agreement to, at least, learn to live together, for a common good; Formula 1 .