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How Liberty learnt from the NFL to turn F1 around

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has revealed how the company learned from the NFL to help turn F1's fortunes around.

In the final years of the Bernie Ecclestone/CVC Capital Partners-led Formula 1, the financial situation for many of the teams was bleak. In 2014, both Marussia and Caterham were forced to miss Grands Prix towards the end of the season due to a lack of money, and although the former would stagger on as Manor Marussia and then Manor, by the end of 2016, both were gone. At the same time, Sauber (now badged as Alfa Romeo) were in a dire situation, only surviving after 2016 thanks to a ninth place finish (and two points) by Felipe Nasr in a very wet Brazilian Grand Prix that ultimately sent Manor under. Others such as Force India and Williams also came close after Liberty Media assumed control in time for the 2017 season, but thanks to the explosive growth the series is enjoying worldwide, teams are starting to turn a profit. Profits for F1 as a whole continue to grow and – thanks to the prize revenue structure – this means that teams are enjoying bigger slices of the pie, making them more attractive to new sponsors and potential owners. It is a virtuous circle, and one that stems from the NFL, as Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei explains.

Maffei explains NFL links

"Our goal is to build a long-term healthy eco-system and build a sport that has much of the same elements that the NFL has on any given Sunday – that anybody can win," Maffei (below, left) explained on a recent investor call. "They can compete like hell on Sunday, and then think about the league first on Monday, and [Stefano Domenicali, F1 CEO and I] had lunch with [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver and [NFL Commissioner] Roger Goodell. "It was interesting to compare where we are, what advantages we have as a league, what disadvantages and they're not unique. "We had only 24 races, we don't have tonnage, but we have brought in a lot of parity. "There are a lot of really important things we can do and what we're going to try and drive over the next five to 10 years in this sport as much as possible: building competitiveness and make it fascinating for the team owners, fans and general public."

Four main goals

Maffei also explained the four main targets Liberty had when they gained control from CVC back in early 2017. "When we took over, we really had four goals with the new Concorde Agreement," he explained, referring to the framework agreed between the FIA, F1 and the teams. "[We wanted to] create more on-track parity though putting a [cost] cap in, putting in a less steeply graded payout [structure] to the teams so that the bottom teams had a better chance to make more money, a new series of designs which allowed more overtaking and we made the teams franchises so that they had a value. "Remember, in 2016, Manor was the 11th team and just before we bought into Formula 1, it went into administration in the UK and was sold for one pound. "The world has changed dramatically. Have we achieved everything on our goals? No, but we have achieved an awful lot about parity, about bringing the eco-system to be healthy and generating interest."

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