New F1 Concorde Agreement on ‘back burner’

Chase Carey

A new commercial agreement tying Formula 1 teams to the sport has been placed on the back burner due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dubbed the Concorde Agreement, the latest edition was set to come into play for 2021.

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey revealed in a call with Wall Street analysts that discussions were well advanced on the new contract, but had since been put on hold.

“We had been in the final stages of completing the Concorde Agreement when the coronavirus crisis turned everything on its head,” Carey said.

“We decided to put the Concorde on the back burner for the short term, and prioritise addressing issues relating to 2020 first.

“As we move forward with the 2020 calendar and finalise regulatory changes with the teams we will once again return to completing the Concorde Agreement in the immediate future.”

The Concorde Agreement was first put place in the early 1980s, and contractually binds teams to competing in the Formula 1.

It was developed as a way for the sport to guarantee entries and ultimately achieve better deals for teams and the sport when negotiating with promoters.

Over the decades it has undergone a number of changes but continues to fundamentally underpin the sport.

However, there have been instances previously where, for a period, the Agreement has lapsed.

Carey suggests another such instance wouldn’t be disastrous.

“The reality is once you get to 2021 with the FIA on the Concorde we can just deal with it unilaterally, say these are the rules of the road, or this is the structure that exists, so we don’t have to extend anything,” he explained.

“We can essentially implement and say, ‘if you’re racing, that’s the terms on which you’re racing’.

“Obviously that’s not how we’re looking to conclude it with the teams but the Concorde Agreement when we put it forward will be the Concorde Agreement that goes into effect in ’21, and we are able to unilaterally do that.”

Formula 1 as a business has faced significant challenges in recent months, including a plummeting stock value.

Following the cancellation of the Australian Grand Prix in March the sport’s value dropped to its lowest value since 2016.

According to NASDAQ, its stock reached a low of $16.87 a share on March 18, though has since recovered to $29.64 when trading closed on May 5. In January it recorded a high of $46.08.

Carey however believes the sport can rebound from the current situation, with the opening race of the 2020 season slated to take place in early July.

Behind the scenes it is also working on shoring up plans for 2021 with the intent of getting the business back to where it was in January.

“First and foremost we have to make sure that in 2021 we’ve got the business looking like we expected it to look four months ago, and have the same future that we expected four months ago, so really what we’re managing through is a short one-time event for us,” Carey said.

“We think the support and interest we’ve got, whether it’s from fans or partners, can enable us to get back there.

“I’m not saying there won’t be some lasting impacts, but the strength of events like ours I think the fans will come back.

“Events like ours will continue to rise in strength, and I think the type of partners we have seem to be more supportive than ever, even if you have a degree of shake out in the economy.”

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