United Arab Emirates Take out the checkbook


Formula 1’s problems in Brazil continued with the news that the new deal to host the Brazilian race at the Interlagos circuit had been according to the Brazilian newspaper. Folha de S. Paulo suspended by a judge.

The deal in question was not Liberty Media’s contract with new promoter MC Brazil Motorsport but the contract between the city of Sao Paulo and MC Brazil.

According to Judge Emilio Migliano Neto: “The facts show that, without a doubt, the principles of publicity and transparency are explicitly violated.

“For this reason, the execution of the contract in question should be suspended.

Liberty Media where it seems correct to strike a deal with MC Brazil Motorsport, a company that was only recently formed and with no track record (excuse the pun).

This can be explained by Liberty’s desire to race in Brazil but only if they could take out longtime promoter Tamas Rohony.

Bad blood existed after Liberty felt sewn up by Rohony’s ally, Bernie Ecclestone, when after purchasing the commercial rights Liberty later found out that no hosting fees had been paid for the Brazilian GP.

Interestingly, it has been revealed that funding for MC Brazil comes from the Mubadala Group, the sovereign wealth fund of the UAE government.

The Mubadala group is no stranger to F1 as it had already sponsored the Ferrari F1 team in 2007 after buying a 5% stake in Ferrari in 2005 for 114 million euros (sold later).

Piero Ferrari, who owns 10% of the company, said at the time: “I know Abu Dhabi well. I have had the opportunity to meet government officials, His Highness and his family, so I am happy to welcome them into the Ferrari fold.

Piero, like many others, ignored the question of the UAE’s human rights record and pocketed the money.

Mubadala was instrumental in the development of the very first Ferrari theme park on Yas Island in 2010, the year following the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

So, does the UAE have any plans for further investment in F1?

Well first of all they have the money and according to Bloomberg Mubadala plans to deploy capital to double in size to almost half a trillion dollars over the next decade, a plan that will place it in the top 10 of global sovereign wealth funds.

Mubadala was among the few sovereign investors who seized the opportunities of a market dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Middle Eastern countries are increasing their involvement in F1, with Bahrain hosting a race and continuing to invest in the McLaren team.

Saudi Arabia, through state-owned oil company Aramco, is sponsoring the championship and will host its first race in 2021.

Qatar is waiting behind the scenes with its Losail International FIA Grade 1 circuit built in 2004 for $ 58 million.

Qatar were hoping for a place on the calendar in 2016 after Bahrain, which had exclusivity in the region, accepted the race from Abu Dhabi.

At the time, Bernie Ecclestone speaking to Reuters said: “We asked them (Bahrain) about Abu Dhabi and they agreed, but they said a third race was probably not the way to be continued.” He added: “I think we have enough (of races) here, don’t we?”

Bahrain denied this with circuit boss Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa, saying: “It is not for us (to say). It is for the rights holder.

Qatar takes the sport seriously, as evidenced by its “victory” in the rights to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Well times have moved on with the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait knocking on the door after spending $ 162 million in 2017 to build the Kuwait Motor Town grade 1 FIA circuit.

The United Arab Emirates are also hoping that their man Mohammed bin Sulayem, UAE rally champion, UAE Automobile & Touring Club president, and FIA official will succeed Jean Todt as FIA president.

So what could be the next step for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait or Qatar?

All four countries are accused of using F1 to “cleanse the sport” of their image, but on the other hand, their citizens are passionate about motor racing.

Well, buying a team can be on the cards.

It would be fair to assume that Gene Haas already regrets his involvement with Dmitry Mazepin after the recent junior behavior resulting in a shit storm that Gene could do without and therefore he could decide to sell the team after all.

The same goes for owners of Sauber Longbow finance who might decide to cash in their tokens due to uncertainty over Alfa Romeo’s involvement from 2022 and the investment required to continue in F1.

Haas, the astute businessman and Longbow negotiator will understand that the deep pockets of the Arab states would lead to a bidding war forcing the purchase price up into the proverbial, “an offer you can’t refuse” .

Interesting moments in this uncertain world.

At the bottom of the page: Maybe Cyril Abiteboul could get a reference for any team manager position from Renault’s title sponsor ……… the Dubai-based DP World!

An opinion piece by Garry Sloan author of “In the pit lane – F1 exposed” details on inthepitlane.com
Copyright © 2020 Garry Sloan


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