Formula 1 legend Gerhard Berger has backed the sale of the sport’s commercial rights to American mogul John Malone’s Liberty Media.
Liberty is buying F1 after ten years of controversial majority ownership by CVC, a mainly disengaged and profit-driven private equity group.
“I’m glad that something is happening, because the structures have been bogged down for years,” Berger, a former driver and official, told Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.
“I see the new arrangement as holding more opportunity than risk, which is why I think the sale is good for formula one,” he added.
Berger also said it is good that Liberty Media is American.
“The new owner is typically American,” he explained, “which means (they are) straightforward. So there will be no more endless discussion.
“This is a very different approach than we saw before,” said Berger.
“This is certainly also an opportunity for formula one to establish itself in America, which is a huge market. Liberty are also quite big media specialists, from which formula one can learn and benefit from a lot.
“I believe these guys are very customer oriented,” Berger continued, “which is good for the fans of today and tomorrow.”
However, the early signs of the Liberty deal are that Malone, and particularly new chairman Chase Carey, could clash with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
Berger hopes they find a “constructive dialogue”.
“I hope this does not degenerate into a power struggle, because formula one will suffer the most from that.
“Instead, it would be desirable for the new and the old leaders to find a way and for Ecclestone to share his knowledge and network,” he said.