Reigning world champions — Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff believes that F1’s potential new United States investors could be “good news” for the sport as it nears an $8.5 billion takeover.
The deal is definitely done on the sale of F1’s majority stake by current owners CVC, according to multiple authoritative sources — the Liberty Media, headed by US tycoon John Malone, is buying F1 for $8.5 billion.
The Sunday Times said F1 supreme Bernie Ecclestone is “refusing to deny” that the first transaction will be done early next week.
Wolff thinks Liberty could help F1 adopt a more modern outlook if the takeover goes ahead, pointing to the success of American sports media to highlight his point.
“If there is an investor that wants to buy shares I think that is good news for F1,” Wolff said.
“You’ve seen it today, it was unbelievable, the fans and full grandstands. Maybe it is good news, American investment, American Media Company buys F1.
“If you buy a company for that price and you are in charge of a media empire like Liberty there are certain things you have done in your life. I don’t think anybody would buy that stake and spend that money and come in and say ‘we are not changing everything and we are doing it the American way’.
“There are things we can learn from the American way, particularly in the digital areas, and there are things working here that are not working there. So I think they are going to have a close look and analyse what they think needs to be changed, improved or what needs to remain. There is a reason why these guys can afford to buy this.”
The reports also claims that the sale will be done in two stages, with Ecclestone to definitely stay as chief executive in the initial, transitional phase.
“I don’t know what happens in terms of management,” Wolff went on to say. “Bernie has done an awesome job over 50 years and made it what it is and I think everybody credits him for that…”
Asked if he wanted Ecclestone to stay on as boss, Wolff said: “I don’t want to jump into that group that says…. He has built an empire and we are benefitting from that empire. That thing generates dozens and dozens of live views and full race tracks like we had today and one and a half billion in profits like we’ve had every year.
“He’s done an awesome job and whether the future shows there are areas which can be improved or not, I don’t know, but I don’t want to speculate because that is just wrong.”
F1 legend Gerhard Berger welcomed the news that CVC is selling.
“It will bring in fresh ideas,” he told the Italian broadcaster Sky at Monza, adding that the fact the new owner is American will also help.
“America is a nut that formula one never really cracked,” Berger added.