Liberty appears to be struggling with ambition to host F1 events in the US

Liberty appears to be struggling with ambition to host F1 events in the US

Formula One F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China - April 14, 2019. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc during the race. Hu Cheng Wei/Pool via REUTERS

Various issues, including a lack of financing, put paid to then F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s dream of increasing the number of American homeland races.

After Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix we have to wonder if we are watching a well-orchestrated fantasy series, rather than the sport of motor racing. The grid was Noah’s ark – two by two line-up – and the lead character of the series was struggling to stay in the battle but miraculously found the mystic ingredient and annihilated the opposition.

The main opposing force had slipped from a position of strength with victory in sight, to become a struggling also-ran. Their senior officers on the wall again failed to issue the correct commands, creating great confusion within the ranks fighting to stem their impending rout.

All very storybook and hopefully one that will not be repeated too often, which would result in a further drop on the bestseller lists.

Joking aside, what has happened to the Maranello team? Yet again, despite senior management changes, it appears to have lost all direction both in performance and strategy decisions.

From the promise of pre-season testing, we’ve witnessed the debacle of Melbourne, the emergence of a rising star in Bahrain and an almost comical number of incorrect strategy calls in China.

Their team orders seemingly demonstrated a degree of panic – not good. Hopefully, we will now witness a turnaround and an exciting three-way chase for the title, including Red Bull. Or was all that Mercedes, “Ferrari is quicker than us”, at the beginning of the season just pure fantasy? Liberty Media appears to be struggling with its ambition to host more Formula One events in the US. I’m sure you remember the failed attempt back in 2012 to run a round of the championship in the Long Island area.

Various issues, including a lack of financing, put paid to then F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s dream of increasing the number of American homeland races. With Liberty’s concept of taking F1 to the people by running a Grand Prix in city centres, the previously proposed race in Miami, Florida, seems to have run aground again F1’s commercial director Sean Bratches was set to run the race this year, but after the initial euphoria had worn off, Liberty found not everyone in Miami was as enthusiastic.

This includes a group of residents whose homes were on the proposed circuit and placed a cease and desist order with Miami City Hall to stop all negotiations on the event. Bratches had no option and deferred the 2019 race date until 2020.

Now that is the subject of yet another delay as a meeting of the Miami City Commission held in September last year first deferred the vote on the race to March 28, then to May 29, 2019 – the date of a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

If the commission should fail to approve the race, it will be a serious blow for Liberty’s goals. But then why not offer the sort of deal that Liberty offered to Miami – which was a no-hosting fee – and see how happy places such as Mexico, Monza, Germany and Silverstone would be, all under threat at present. Sunday’s race was feted as the 1000th Grand Prix and a festive occasion it was, but there were some that did not accept the idea.

One, in particular, was Ecclestone, who believes Silverstone should have hosted the memorable anniversary. That, because Silverstone hosted the very first F1 Grand Prix in 1950.

Ecclestone said if he was still in control, he would have moved the British event forward to April. Of course, no one took him seriously – after all, F1 is now under new management. Others argue that Sunday’s race was actually Grand Prix number 989.

The reason for this is perhaps a little pedantic, but from 1950 to 1960 the Indy 500 was officially part of the World Championship, with minimal participation by F1 teams. So that takes away 11 Grands Prix, if one really wants to nitpick.

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