Marko warns caution over potential Saudi F1 bid

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Helmut Marko believes that caution is needed over Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) potentially buying Formula 1 from current owners Liberty Media. Rumours surfaced last week that PIF had tabled a $20 billion bid to obtain the rights to F1, having also taken control of Newcastle United Football Club in the English Premier League in 2021 – the same year the first Saudi Grand Prix was held at Jeddah. However, as reported, such a deal would not be possible as the Commercial Rights Holder (F1) cannot sell the rights as the FIA hold a veto – known as the “Don King clause” after the boxing promoter. Furthermore, given the profitability and increasing popularity of F1, it is unlikely that Liberty would be wanting to sell – six years after assuming control of the series from previous owners CVC Capital Partners. Marko believes in culture clash While admitting that the fact F1 attracting takeover interest was a “good sign,” Austrian Marko believed a culture clash with Saudi Arabia would prove a problem. “It wouldn’t be so good if [F1] went to a country that is culturally different from where most of the races take place,” he was reported by RTL as saying, alluding to the predominantly European history of the sport. “Generally, it is a commercial thing, and that’s more likely to happen with someone who meets normal corporate standards, if you want to put it that way.” The long-time Red Bull driver boss also weighed in on the recent clamping down of drivers making political speeches and taking action by the FIA. “That is clearly wrong and [drivers] are responsible citizens who are in the global public eye who know how and what they have to say,” he said. “We are in a democratic society and everyone can express their opinion.”

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