June 25, 2024

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F1 spending cap made racing teams more investable

2 min read

Singapore’s F1 Grand Prix in 2022. 2022.

Bryn Lennon – Formula 1 | Formula 1 | Getty Images

Take an elite field of world-class racing experts. Ask them to spend fewer dollars toward beating their bitter rivals. The result, it turns out, is a slate of newly investable assets.

That’s how the heads of Formula 1 racing see it, crediting a league-wide budget cap with making the team businesses more sustainable and boosting valuations.

“When we got involved, literally, the bottom teams were being traded for zero. Today I don’t think you could buy a team for less than $750 million, and the top teams are valued [around] $3 billion,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei told CNBC’s Sara Eisen in the documentary “The Inside Track: The Business of Formula 1.”

The budget cap — set at $135 million per team in 2023 — limits how much teams can spend on developing and building their race cars. Before it was introduced in 2021, the top teams in the league could spend multiples of that in a given year.

It’s a model similar to U.S. sports leagues, several of which limit what teams can spend on player salaries (though F1 driver salaries are excluded) — and it’s the work of F1-owner Liberty Media, which bought the league in 2017.

“We understood that some of the things that, for example the NFL, has done about creating more revenue parity, creating a cost cap, those allow for a way more competitive and more compelling sport,” Maffei said.

F1’s 10 teams each get a share of league revenue, brought in through sponsorships and media deals. They also collect individual revenue through team-specific partnerships, hospitality and engineering efforts.

Better performance on the track makes it easier to earn money, but it takes significant spending to get there.

“Before, someone investing in a race team didn’t know if you would spend $200 million a year or half a billion a year. There was everything in between,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal at Haas F1 Team.

Haas has seen a particularly…

2023-11-17 17:02:26

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