Formula One to follow ‘league first’ NFL model to grow sport

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media will not follow the example of the sport’s previous regime and pit the 10 teams against each other when negotiating the next commercial deal in 2026, according to chief executive Greg Maffei.

Formula 1’s main stakeholders are bound by the Concorde Agreement, which sets out the commercial terms under which each will compete. The next deal will run from 2026 until 2030.

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Introduced by former Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in 1981, negotiations over the Concorde agreements were often tense, with teams vying to get the best deal for themselves.

However, Liberty Media — which took control of the sport in 2017 — is looking to follow the NFL’s approach of having teams negotiate with the sports’ interests in mind.

“The previous regime devoted a lot of time to making teams compete against each other,” Maffei said. “In many cases, they just enjoyed outdoing each other, rather than thinking about how to grow the sport.

“We’ve tried to take a page from, I would say in some ways, the NFL in the United States: compete hard on Sunday, but on Monday [it’s] League first.

“We really want to grow the sport together. The teams have embraced that, and benefited from that, because not only have they seen growth in Formula 1 revenue and their share of the profits in their own sponsorship, but we’ve also seen growth in the value of the teams.”

Maffei still expects there to be some areas where the teams don’t agree.

“There are definitely issues that we will fight about,” he said. “What a surprise: They want to make more money. I don’t envy them that.”

“I think some of it, as they would like, may come out of our pocket. But overall, they appreciate that we’ve tried to take the long view, and try to take the view that we should all benefit together.”

Liberty’s first Concorde agreement was negotiated during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 to start the following season and implement a budget cap of $135 million per team, the first of its kind in Formula 1 history.

The sport enjoyed a huge surge in global popularity under Liberty’s leadership.

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