Red Bull’s Helmut Marko gives his take on Saudi £16bn F1 takeover bid

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Helmut Marko has shared his thoughts on a reported F1 multi-billion pound takeover bid from Saudi Arabia. The news of a potential takeover has been in the headlines over the past week or so.

Earlier this month, a report from Bloomberg emerged that the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) had shown interest in the sport. It was claimed that they were prepared to pay a fee around £16bn to buy F1, but current owners Liberty Media had no interest in selling.

Worldwide interest in the sport is on a high so it’s no surprise the sport is subject to lucrative bids. Marko believes the size of that offer which was “supposedly on the table” is a good sign for F1.

However, he shared his concerns by telling RTL he was opposed to the idea of the sport being bought and owned by the PIF. “I think it wouldn’t be so good if it went to a country that is culturally different from where most of the races take place,” said the Austrian.

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“And generally it’s 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 report regarding the supposed takeover bid evoked a polarising response within F1 ranks, especially where FIA president Mohammed ben Sulayem was concerned.

Giving his thoughts, the 61-year-old wrote: “As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organisation, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1. Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.

“It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans.” In another interview, Ben Sulayem cast doubt on the price quoted for the supposed takeover bid.

“I think, honestly, it is inflated. It’s exaggerated. Talking with common sense, is it worth that much?” Ben Sulayem told Autosport. “[If it is] then what do we do? We would have to charge to recover that money. How much would we charge the local promoter? I’m just looking at the rationale behind it, the logic. Because you have to have a plan.

“Up to now though, it’s rumours. But I believe also the FIA should be part of talks, or offer advice, because the FIA owns the championship. We lease it, it is true. But I just want to ensure we have clarity so we can go forward.”

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