Saudi Arabia Wealth Fund Explored Bid To Buy F1

F1 chiefs have hit back at FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s claims that a reported £16bn price tag the sport’s commercial rights is “inflated”.

A report in Bloomberg over the weekend suggested the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) – chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman – have tabled an offer over $20bn (£16bn) to F1 owners Liberty Media for the commercial rights of the sport.

Ben Sulayem, head of the sport’s governing body, took to social media to publicise his views, insisting the alleged price tag was “inflated” and any potential buyer needs to “apply common sense… not just a lot of money.”

Now, in the latest example of F1 and the sport’s governing body being at loggerheads, a letter seen by Sky News sent by F1 legal supremo Sacha Woodward Hill and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media Corporation, has accused the FIA and its president of “interfering with our [commercial] rights in an unacceptable manner.”

Follow all the latest news from the world of Formula 1 with The Independent

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F1 news: ‘I had bananas thrown at me’: Lewis Hamilton details racist abuse suffered at school

Lewis Hamilton said he had bananas thrown at him and was repeatedly called the “n-word” at school.

The seven time Formula One world champion, who was born and educated in Stevenage, detailed the racial abuse in the On Purpose podcast, released on Monday. The 38-year-old, who is preparing for his 17th season in F1, said: “For me, school was the most traumatising and most difficult part of my life.

“I was already being bullied at the age of six. At that particular school I was one of three kids of colour and just bigger, stronger, bullying kids were throwing me around a lot of the time.

“And the constant jabs, the things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people that would use the n-word just so relaxed. People calling you half-caste and not knowing where you fit in. That for me was difficult.

“In my (secondary) school there were six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids and three of us were put outside the headmasters’ office all the time. The headmaster just had it out for us – and particularly me.”

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 16:30

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F1 news: When are F1 teams launching their 2023 cars?

The 2023 Formula 1 season starts on 5 March in Bahrain – and preparations are well underway ahead of the new campaign.

All 10 teams have had more than two months since the final race of 2022 in Abu Dhabi and are set to reveal their new cars in the next few weeks, with pre-season testing taking place at the Bahrain International Circuit from 23-25 February.

Red Bull will be the first team to reveal their 2023 design next month, in New York City no less, while all eyes will be on Mercedes’ W14 car after their bouncing and porpoising problems in 2022.

Meanwhile, Ferrari will be looking to produce a car capable of race wins once again as they launch their 2023 model, while the likes of McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin are all striving for improvements this season.

Here are the 2023 car launch dates in chronological order:

Red Bull – Friday February 3 (New York)

Williams – Monday February 6 (online)

Alfa Romeo – Tuesday February 7 (Zurich)

AlphaTauri – Saturday February 11 (New York)

Aston Martin – Monday February 13 (Silverstone)

McLaren – Monday February 13 (location TBC)

Ferrari – Tuesday February 14 (location TBC)

Mercedes – Wednesday February 15 (Silverstone)

Alpine – Thursday February 16 (London)

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 16:15

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F1 news: Former F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein on why he ditched social media

Exclusive interview by Kieran Jackson

Upon being asked why an Instagram profile with 145,000 followers – and Twitter following standing at over 80k – had not seen any updates since June 2022, Pascal Wehrlein pauses. Even stutters. Speaking ahead of his fifth season in Formula E as a new era starts tomorrow in Mexico City, the German driver has to this point spoken without hesitance. Why the uncharacteristic stumble? Has a nerve been touched?

Yet, truth be told, the start of this interview had looked much different at first draft. Because after eloquently vocalising his thoughts on social media and his lack of usage, what did the 28-year-old do two days before the start of season nine – and two days after this interview? Post an Instagram, of course.

It might be jumping the gun to suggest Wehrlein felt alerted by his online stiff-arm solely because of The Independent’s line of questioning – inflated ego alert! – but nevertheless, his overarching viewpoint still stands: online popularity does not automatically translate to real-life pleasure.

“Well let’s say… I really enjoy privacy,” Wehrlein explains, donning his Porsche team colours, over a Zoom call. “I don’t like posting a lot of stuff to do with my personal life and therefore simply I don’t post too much on social media. I really like to separate my private life and my job.”

Pressed further on whether he uses the Instagram or Twitter apps at all, there’s that pause again. “Not so much anymore. It’s difficult to find the right words. I think you can quite easily be distracted by social media. And as I’m getting older, I just realise there are more important things in life.”

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 15:58

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As Formula E enters new era, can the sporting product match the investment and the idea?

Feature by Kieran Jackson

In a manner typical of his loved-or-loathed eccentricity, Italian motorsport giant Flavio Briatore has a habit of cutting through the noise and, rather starkly, hitting the nail on the head. Never short of an assertive opinion, the former Renault F1 boss was recently speaking to Formula E chairman Alejandro Agag about the all-electric series’ new Gen3 car, which made its competitive debut in Mexico City over the weekend.

Previously unflattering in his assessment of Formula E, upon seeing the fresh model, Briatore seemed converted. “Finally, you have a car which looks like a racecar,” he quipped. Spanish businessman Agag, telling the world’s media at the first race of the 2023 season, interrupted a colleague speaking on stage to tell the tale, with a look of justification writ large over his face.

Formula E’s latest venture – in creating their quickest, lightest and most sustainable car to date – is four years in the making and marks the start of a new era for the sport, in its ninth season, as it looks to take a step up in performance amid motorsport’s worldwide boom predominantly caused by Formula 1’s exponential surge in popularity.

In essence, Briatore’s statement points towards the juggling act which Formula E has grappled with since its inception in 2014. Three years earlier, the single-seater electric concept was signed and sealed between Agag and then-FIA president Jean Todt on a napkin at a dinner in Paris. Now, with the 2023 campaign set to host more races and cities than ever before, one question lingers: can the sporting product match the investment and the idea?

Because beyond any marketing spree, what lures new fans into any sport is the appeal of the action itself. The drama. The racing. Compared to F1 – and other staple racing series’ such as IndyCar and the World Endurance Championship – Formula E has struggled to capture the imagination with its sporting spectacle. It is a point not lost on Jamie Reigle, Formula E’s CEO since 2019. Yet, as anyone in the paddock points out, FE has no interest in riding on the coattails of F1. It is its own entity.

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 15:22

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F1 news: Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sends warning to rivals ahead of new Formula 1 season

Toto Wolff insists his Mercedes team should not be written off ahead of the new Formula 1 season.

Having won eight constructors’ titles in a row from 2014-2021, the Silver Arrows struggled last year with an underperforming car, coming home third in the Championship behind Red Bull and Ferrari.

Despite issues early on in the season with bouncing and porpoising, Mercedes did manage to secure a win in the penultimate race of the season and optimism is high that Wolff’s team can challenge for the title once more in 2023.

“Do not write us off,” Wolff told The Times last week. “In this life, you never stop giving it everything.”

On last year’s car, Wolff added: “We got the physics wrong,. It’s no myth. We misinterpreted some of the regulations. We put too much emphasis on seeking performance in a car that was supposed to run on the ground, very low.

“But you can’t run it so low, because it [the floor of the car] was hitting the ground. So we had to lift it up, which changed things again. It sounds like a trivial explanation, but this is the reality.”

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 14:59

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F1 news: Lewis Hamilton likely to sign new contract at Mercedes, says Toto Wolff

Seven-time world champion Hamilton has won six of his world titles at the Silver Arrows, a team he joined after the 2012 F1 season when he left McLaren.

Despite controversially missing out on a record-breaking eighth title in 2021, and a year of struggle in an underperforming car in 2022, Hamilton has reiterated in the past few months that he has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

The Brit, who turned 38 on Saturday, sees his current deal expire at the end of 2023 but speaking to F1’s Beyond the Grid Podcast last month, Mercedes CEO Wolff believes there is no question that Hamilton will sign a new contract – it is just a case of when.

“Certainly, Lewis’s contract is one of the topics that we will tackle over the winter, but there is no firm deadline,” Wolff said.

Pressed on whether he was confident a new deal would be penned, Wolff said: “Absolutely. Lewis is part of the team, and the team is part of Lewis. [There’s] no reason not to continue.”

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 14:30

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F1 news: F1 Drive to Survive: Season 5 release date and everything we know

Drive to Survive will soon return to Netflix once again as is annual tradition. Season five will be here next month and the streaming platform has also shared a teaser trailer.

Season four looked back on the explosive 2021 season where Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton went toe-to-toe and pushed each other so hard they went into the final race of the season on equal points. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix turned into one of the most controversial sports moments as Verstappen overtook Hamilton on the last lap.

While Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes did not challenge for the title in 2022, the team did progress as the season went on. It was a year when Red Bull and Verstappen dominated after a bright start from Ferrari fell away as their strategy decisions were repeatedly scrutinised.

Verstappen’s eventual crowning as back-to-back champion was not without controversy though as the Dutchman did not even know he was World Champion until he was told by race officials. While waiting in the cooldown room to take his place atop the podium in Japan, he was told that he had won the Drivers Championship, causing confusion as he asked “are you sure?”

The confusion stemmed from a rain-soaked race where full points were not awarded due to the number of laps completed.

When will it be released?

The fifth season of the hit documentary will be released on 24 February 2023.

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 13:58

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F1 news: ‘I had bananas thrown at me’: Lewis Hamilton details racist abuse suffered at school

Lewis Hamilton said he had bananas thrown at him and was repeatedly called the “n-word” at school.

The seven time Formula One world champion, who was born and educated in Stevenage, detailed the racial abuse in the On Purpose podcast, released on Monday. The 38-year-old, who is preparing for his 17th season in F1, said: “For me, school was the most traumatising and most difficult part of my life.

“I was already being bullied at the age of six. At that particular school I was one of three kids of colour and just bigger, stronger, bullying kids were throwing me around a lot of the time.

“And the constant jabs, the things that are either thrown at you, like bananas, or people that would use the n-word just so relaxed. People calling you half-caste and not knowing where you fit in. That for me was difficult.

“In my (secondary) school there were six or seven black kids out of 1,200 kids and three of us were put outside the headmasters’ office all the time. The headmaster just had it out for us – and particularly me.”

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 13:26

1674651587

F1 news: F1 chiefs slam FIA boss Mohammed Ben Sulayem over ‘unacceptable’ claims

F1 chiefs have hit back at FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s claims that a reported £16bn price tag the sport’s commercial rights is “inflated”.

A report in Bloomberg over the weekend suggested the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) – chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman – have tabled an offer over $20bn (£16bn) to F1 owners Liberty Media for the commercial rights of the sport.

Ben Sulayem, head of the sport’s governing body, took to social media to publicise his views, insisting the alleged price tag was “inflated” and any potential buyer needs to “apply common sense… not just a lot of money.”

Now, in the latest example of F1 and the sport’s governing body being at loggerheads, a letter seen by Sky News sent by F1 legal supremo Sacha Woodward Hill and Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media Corporation, has accused the FIA and its president of “interfering with our [commercial] rights in an unacceptable manner.”

The letter, sent to F1 teams including Ferrari and Mercedes according to the Sky report, states that: “Formula 1 has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

“Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”

The letter goes on to insist that Ben Sulayem had “overstepped the bounds of the FIA’s remit”, adding the notion that “any potential purchaser of the Formula 1 business is required to consult with the FIA is wrong”.

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 12:59

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As Formula E enters new era, can the sporting product match the investment and the idea?

Feature by Kieran Jackson

In a manner typical of his loved-or-loathed eccentricity, Italian motorsport giant Flavio Briatore has a habit of cutting through the noise and, rather starkly, hitting the nail on the head. Never short of an assertive opinion, the former Renault F1 boss was recently speaking to Formula E chairman Alejandro Agag about the all-electric series’ new Gen3 car, which made its competitive debut in Mexico City over the weekend.

Previously unflattering in his assessment of Formula E, upon seeing the fresh model, Briatore seemed converted. “Finally, you have a car which looks like a racecar,” he quipped. Spanish businessman Agag, telling the world’s media at the first race of the 2023 season, interrupted a colleague speaking on stage to tell the tale, with a look of justification writ large over his face.

Formula E’s latest venture – in creating their quickest, lightest and most sustainable car to date – is four years in the making and marks the start of a new era for the sport, in its ninth season, as it looks to take a step up in performance amid motorsport’s worldwide boom predominantly caused by Formula 1’s exponential surge in popularity.

In essence, Briatore’s statement points towards the juggling act which Formula E has grappled with since its inception in 2014. Three years earlier, the single-seater electric concept was signed and sealed between Agag and then-FIA president Jean Todt on a napkin at a dinner in Paris. Now, with the 2023 campaign set to host more races and cities than ever before, one question lingers: can the sporting product match the investment and the idea?

Because beyond any marketing spree, what lures new fans into any sport is the appeal of the action itself. The drama. The racing. Compared to F1 – and other staple racing series’ such as IndyCar and the World Endurance Championship – Formula E has struggled to capture the imagination with its sporting spectacle. It is a point not lost on Jamie Reigle, Formula E’s CEO since 2019. Yet, as anyone in the paddock points out, FE has no interest in riding on the coattails of F1. It is its own entity.

Kieran Jackson25 January 2023 12:24



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