Russian GP promoter: Criticism of Liberty's F1 ownership toothless

The promoter of the Russian Grand Prix has defended Liberty Media's running of Formula 1 and says criticism aimed at the championship's owners by rival race chiefs is "toothless"

Russian GP promoter: Criticism of Liberty's F1 ownership toothless

A statement issued by the 16 members of the Formula One Promoters' Association [FOPA], of which Russia is not a member, took aim at Liberty due to concerns the group has about the future direction of F1.

The promoters have taken issue with declining audiences caused by the move to pay TV, plus a perceived unclear strategy about F1's direction.

But Sergey Vorobyev, the deputy general director of Sochi F1 promoter Rosgonki, told Autosport he did not agree with FOPA's stance.

"The statement is fairly toothless, because all the issues indicated there, in this statement, they are being resolved one way or another in the current format of communication with Liberty," said Vorobyev, referring to the annual promoters' meeting that is taking place in London this week.

"It was at the initiative of Liberty that all the promoters gathered in London, specifically to discuss common matters with the participation of Liberty Media.

"I do not see the need for a separate assembly of some promoters.

"I do not share the position of the current chairman of the FOPA Association, [Silverstone's managing director] Stuart Pringle.

"In his comments - public comments for the media - he has very frequently made personal criticisms of Liberty's leadership and our whole common sport.

"I don't believe this approach to be constructive, and therefore we, along with several other grands prix - and I am sure there will be more of us in the coming days, weeks and months - are not members of FOPA."

Another problem highlighted by the group of grand prix promoters is the fact that Liberty offered a different race hosting business model for a proposed Miami race.

The idea is that a Miami Grand Prix would be in partnership with F1 and the local promoter, working together and spreading the risk.

Other current F1 venues, such as Silverstone, face uncertain futures due to the traditional model of race hosting, and Miami's potential inclusion has prompted unease from some circuits.

Vorobyev said the issue was premature because the Miami project had yet to be realised.

"If you look at the calendar of the current Formula 1 season, it does not have the Grand Prix of Miami, so what's the point of having theoretical conversations about how things could be, now or in 2020?

"First you would need to look into the actual Miami GP agreements. And if the Miami promoters, our partners and friends, have some special provisions, that would be a great reason to discuss further improvement of contractual conditions [for other races].

"But at the moment it is absolutely pointless to discuss this. To worry about it makes no sense, because the Miami GP is not on F1's calendar."

Vorobyev added that he saw the need for a major overhaul, potentially beyond the mooted 2021 plans.

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