In this special edition of Reporters we look back on a week when F1 changed both on and off the track. We start Last Thursday when Felipe Massa announced he was retiring at the end of the year!
Massa announces retirement
Felipe Massa has announced he will retire from the sport After fourteen seasons at the end of the season. The Brazilian who has won eleven races and forty one podiums made the announcement at Monza.
Massa alongside Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams told a news conference “This will be my last season in F1.” Massa who raced for Ferrari between 2006 and 2013 missed out on the 2008 world championship by a single point.
His announcement came ten years after Michael Schumacher announced his retirement at the same circuit. Massa reviled he decided to quit “several months ago” and had not held talks with any teams – including Williams – about a deal for 2017.
Massa said he chose Monza because it was the place where Schumacher announced his first retirement. November’s season-concluding Abu Dhabi GP is set to be his 250th and last race in the sport.
You can read more here. Well following that announcement by Massa it added fuel to the fire that Jenson Button was to return to Williams. But less than 48 hours later he announced he would have a year out but why?
Jenson Button To Take A Sabbatical Next Season
Jenson Button has announced he has signed a two year contract with McLaren but he will not race next season. The Somerset born driver will take up and a ambassadorial role from 2017.
After months of speculation McLaren have this evening announced that the Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne will partner Fernando Alonso next season. Button will take a effectively a sabbatical from racing after agreeing a revised deal which includes the option of returning to the grid with the team in 2018.
Button and McLaren chairman Ron Dennis described as an “innovative” solution to the problem to keep all their options open for the future. Dennis said the offer “reflected the esteem” in which McLaren held Button, who has driven for the team since 2010.
Button said it was a “dream to have that rest and have the opportunity to race in 2018”. However, Button will remain the teams test and revere driver for next season.
Button will carry on working and attend a number of races to work with the team, maintain an F1 level of fitness and “remain current”, as he put it.
McLaren have been under pressure to resolve there line up as other teams were interested in signing there reserve driver Vandoorne. But Dennis warned teams to keep their hand off Vandoorne until they made a decision over there line up.
You can read more here. It wasn’t only drivers changing last Sunday it emerged that the sport would be sold to Liberty Media. Here is the original early report
During today it’s emerged that the sport will be sold this week. Multiple sources are reporting that Liberty Media will buy a large stake in Formula One in for $8.4 million.
If the deal goes ahead this week the 35.5 percent stake currently held by CVC could be transferred to the company that runs the sport could be absorbed in to Liberty Media Group which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Some are saying it could lead to Berine Ecclestone leaving.
Liberty’s owner John Malone may want other people in charge of the sport, Ecclestone has insisted that the future is in his hands.
The reports were correct and on Tuesday the deal was confirmed that they were buying a stake. But why here is the report on the deal
Liberty Media Buy Formula One
The US media firm Liberty Media has confirmed they are buying formula one for £3.3bn subject to regulators approving the deal. The announcement ends years of speculation about the ownership of the company.
Berine Ecclestone will remain as chief executive but Chase Carey, vice-chairman of 21st Century Fox, will become the new chairman. Liberty has stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball club.
First the group owns by John Malone will take a minority stake and if regulators approve the deal a full takeover will happen with the total transaction values the firm at $8bn but includes $4.1bn worth of F1’s debt.
Liberty Media is buying the stake from the private equity firm CVC Capital. CVC has held a stake for the past decade but sold some of its holding in 2012.
Caret “I greatly admire Formula One as a unique global sports entertainment franchise attracting hundreds of millions of fans each season from all around the world.”
You can read more here. So with the deal done what is Liberty’s vision for the future of the sport?
Liberty’s vision for F1
Liberty Media has outlined their vision for Formula One following there takeover of the sport.
The group has outline the main areas of focus will be in the next few years. “Big Opportunity at Formula One” was the title of the document. Liberty highlights the “opportunity to develop the sport for benefit of all stakeholders (fans, teams, partners, shareholders)”, before narrowing it down to five select opportunities
There key points are
- Increase promotion and marketing of F1 as a sport and brand
- Enhance distribution of content, especially in digital
- Establish broader range of commercial partners, including sponsorship
- Evolve race calendar
- Leverage Liberty’s expertise in live events and digital monetisation
Speaking to the media today the new chairman John Carey said “in terms of developing markets, clearly new markets are opportunities as a global sport, and we’re excited about that, to grow the sport, expand the sport in places like the Americas and Asia.”
You can read more on the deal here. That’s all from this special edition of Reporters.