Carey: F1 business will bounce back in 2021

Carey: F1 business will bounce back in 2021


Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says that COVID-19 has turned the company’s business plan “on its head” – but he’s adamant that it will be back on track in 2021.

Liberty Media revealed on Monday that in April-June, F1 generated revenues of just $24m, compared with $620m for the same period last year, because no races took place at the height of the global lockdown.

Income is always attributed in the quarters that the races take place, so the first 10 events to be held in 2020 will boost the figures for July-September.

However, there will still be limited revenue from race-hosting fees as there is no possibility of promoters selling tickets to fans until Mugello and Sochi in September.

Carey hopes that heading into 2021 the sport can start to regain the momentum that Liberty had planned since it took it over.

“In reality, if you go back at the beginning of this year, I feel we were actually pretty much on the track we had laid out three years ago,” Carey told Wall Street analysts.

“We have been clear, we were expecting 2020 to be another significant step forward, and 2021, to continue to be a further step forward.

“So we were very much on a trajectory to moving, and it wasn’t going to be in 12 months, but moving to delivering the type of growth that got us to a place.

“I think we felt at the beginning of this year, we were on a good track, and we’ve got a pretty predictable business model.

“So ex the virus, we were very much moving to deliver the type of long-term growth that we had talked about. Obviously, the virus turned it all on its head.”

Carey believes that the world has to start to get back to normal next year, and that F1 will be able to operate a near normal calendar.

“At this point, we’re planning on a 2021 that is probably not quite, but pretty close to the 2021 we would have planned.

“Now, planning anything in the virus era has obviously got complexities, because we don’t know what are going to be the issues in terms of limitations on fan attendance.

“One thing we do believe is that the world has to start to function in the ways we know the world. We do believe 2021 can be pretty close to back on the curve, or on the slope, we had planned for the business.

“But none of us have the visibility we’d like to the virus. I guess, excluding unexpected continuing encumbrances from the pandemic, we expect in 2021 and 2022 to be largely back on the curve we would have been on from sitting at the beginning of this year, with ’19 being a year of growth, and ’20 being a further year of growth.”

Carey insisted that the virus had not had a negative impact on new TV contracts.

“I would actually say in the broadcast world, probably just the nature of the long-term agreements, it hasn’t had a significant impact on the discussions we would have been having pre-COVID.

“I think everybody has some anxieties about what the short-term looks like. But I think I have a degree of confidence, particularly in all the increased discussions about being at home and what you do at home, obviously watching things on a screen can become more important than ever.”

Asked about the possibility of races paying hosting fees in 2020 if they are able to sell tickets to fans, Carey admitted that the question remains open.

“The agreements we have this year, this is such a unique year, they’re all over the place. The first race we think that has potential for a very small number of fans is probably now Mugello, but increasing on races in the latter part of the schedule. Certainly we hope to have fans at as many as possible.

“In some places, the governments want to get a little closer to the date to determine what the situation is. Our deals, our agreements, vary all over, and in some degree depends on are these long-term partners, or one-off partners?

“So there are a lot of moving parts. Some of them do have variables, but it differs in each place, which is always the case with our with our agreements.”

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