F1 race promoters 'better off cancelling' if Liberty don't lower fees

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Formula 1 race promoters have called for Liberty Media to lower fees as they face the fallout from the coronavirus.

So far, eight Grands Prix have had to be cancelled or postponed and the Canadian, French, Austrian and British GP's are all also appearing less likely to take place as scheduled.

To try and overcome the current crisis, F1 bosses are hoping to put together a condensed 15-18 race championship that could extend potentially into early next year.

But that will require cooperation from all race promoters to be flexible on dates, something one claims would have to come at a price to Liberty.

“They have to be willing to accept lower fees if they want their promoters to be healthy,” they told The Independent.

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“We reserve hundreds of buses which have to be booked 90 days before the race and have cancellation fees.

“We have another contract for the traffic because we hire hundreds of police officers over the race weekend and there are cancellation penalties for that too.

“Then there’s the setting up of all the temporary grandstands and hospitality tents which are ordered and negotiated six to eight months before the race and are set up 60 to 90 days ahead of it.

“Once the race is six weeks away we are spending more than a million Euros a week to prepare.”

Another concern is races are expecting a drop in attendances as fans are unable to make the usual plans to visit.

“We usually sell most of our tickets now,” the unnamed race organiser adds.

“Most of the sales are to out of town visitors and they don’t usually make last-minute plans. Around 80 per cent of them book more than four months ahead. So the key selling time for us is now.”

One official F1 ticket selling outlet, GPTicketshop, has claimed sales have "stopped altogether" due to the coronavirus as fans not only face uncertainty on if a race will go ahead but are also having to deal with the financial fallout.

And this ties into another fear race promoters have, a drop in interest in F1 as a whole.

“One of the things that the later races can benefit from is excitement and awareness in the early part of the season. We rely on people getting excited about it when they see it on TV," the organiser explained.

“Australia does a lot of good for us. Once the season starts to get going people start paying attention but if you don’t have the season no one will be paying attention.

“If the season doesn’t kick off until July the interest just won’t be the same. All those races leading up are complementary to our race.”

As a result: “If our revenue is down by from last year, we would like F1 to absorb the amount we are down by. They should just adjust the fee by that amount and if it goes up they can have more.”

If not... “We would be better off not having the event. Cancel it far in advance so that I don’t spend money on people and set up and then find out that it is cancelled. That’s the worst-case scenario.

“An Australia type incident for us would cause bankruptcy because we will have spent millions already. The ticket refunds are what would kill us. We take money from fans and go out and start buying grandstands with it because you have got to build the spectators their seats.

“If the race gets cancelled all of a sudden, the grandstands are sitting there and you have got to give refunds so you are screwed.”