F1 fires legal warning at FIA for Ben Sulayem tweets

Formula 1’s lawyers have sent a letter to the FIA World Motor Sport Council warning the governing body over comments made on Twitter by FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

The FIA president posted a thread of tweets on Monday – retweeted by the FIA official account – that questioned the reported value of the sport following a Bloomberg article that claimed Liberty Media had turned down an offer from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that placed the commercial rights at $20 billion.

“As the custodians of motorsport, the FIA, as a non-profit organization, is cautious about alleged inflated price tags of $20bn being put on F1,” he tweeted.

“Any potential buyer is advised to apply common sense, consider the greater good of the sport and come with a clear, sustainable plan – not just a lot of money.

“It is our duty to consider what the future impact will be for promoters in terms of increased hosting fees and other commercial costs, and any adverse impact that it could have on fans.”

While it is understood the original report was largely inaccurate, F1’s lawyers have now sent a letter – seen by RACER – warning the FIA that Ben Sulayem’s comments “interfere with our rights in an unacceptable manner”.

F1 has a 100 year agreement with the FIA for the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights to the championship, and it is also understood teams are unhappy Ben Sulayem’s tweets could devalue the sport.

As well as sharing that concern, Liberty feel the comments represent the FIA overreaching its jurisdiction, and could result in “potential exposure to serious regulatory consequences” if they implied possession of inside knowledge of the value of F1.

“To the degree that these comments damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation, the FIA may be liable as a result,” the letter adds.

Formula 1 and the FIA both declined to comment when contacted by RACER.