F1 posts $386m loss in 2020 as COVID impacts income

Formula 1 posted a huge loss of $386m in 2020 as the COVID pandemic impacted the calendar and races were run without spectators

F1 posts $386m loss in 2020 as COVID impacts income

Liberty Media's full-year financial results, which were released on Friday, reveal that F1's income tumbled by 44% compared with the previous year.

Overall revenue crashed from $2022m in 2019 to just $1145m last season, while the modest profit of $17m in 2019 turned into an operating loss of $386m after the teams were paid.

The total payments shared between the 10 teams fell from $1012m in 2019 to just $711m last year.

Liberty explained: "Team payments decreased in the full year driven by the contraction in F1 revenue and the associated impact on the calculation of variable elements of team payments.

"Team payments in 2020 included one-time fees paid to teams upon signing the 2021 Concorde Agreement."

The huge dive in race promotion fees was reflected in the fall in their percentage share of F1's primary revenue, down from 30% of the total in 2019 to just 12% last year. Most races either paid no fee, or a renegotiated one-off lower figure.

Explaining the fall, Liberty noted: "Race promotion revenue decreased as fans were prohibited from attending all but three races, which led to one-time changes in the contractual terms of the originally scheduled races that remained on the 2020 calendar and limited revenue generated from the replacement races that were added."

Broadcast revenues accounted for a bigger percentage of the primary income total, up from 38% to 55%.

Although passing the minimum total of 15 races ensured that most broadcasters paid the full contracted amount for the season, Liberty has admitted that there was a payment reduction in some cases: "Broadcast revenue decreased as the altered schedule triggered lower fees pursuant to the contractual terms of certain broadcast agreements, as well as other one-time contract negotiations that took place in 2020."

Advertising and sponsorship revenue's share of the primary income total was up slightly from 15% to 17%, although some income was lost, for example because races with specific title sponsors didn't take place.

Liberty explained: "Advertising and sponsorship fees declined driven by one-time changes in sponsorship contracts due to the cancellation of races to which contracted sponsorship inventory specifically related and the limited activities at the races, including hospitality."

While revenues were down, F1's costs also fell because of the shorter schedule and reduced number of flyaway races: "Costs decreased in the fourth quarter and full year due to lower hospitality and lower freight costs from fewer, logistically cheaper races."

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