The potential F1 sale, explained

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi
Photo by Heuler Andrey/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Diving into the rumors of a potential sale, and the subsequent fallout

It is rarely dull in the world of Formula 1. Between driver silly season, this year’s team manager silly season, the growth of the sport worldwide, and recent storylines about potential expansion, F1 has been in the news a lot lately.

But the most recent news surrounding F1 deals with the future of the sport from a business perspective.

According to recent reporting, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) made an aggressive offer to purchase F1 from Liberty Media. In a report from Bloomberg, the PIF approached Liberty Media last year, placing a valuation on F1 of $20 billion.

The report from Bloomberg noted that while Liberty Media — which purchased F1 back in 2016 — rejected the offer, PIF remains “interested in the asset.”

Liberty Media acquired F1 during 2016, with the sale being finalized at the start of 2017. At the time, F1 was valued at $8 billion, and the purchase price was $4.4 billion.

According to Bloomberg, the offer from PIF came in at $20 billion.

These reports touched off another firestorm of commentary, starting with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the FIA. FIA’s president took to Twitter to push back on the reported price tag for F1, referring to it as “inflated:”

He continued to say that “[a]ny 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.”

The social media posts from the president of FIA — the governing body of motorsport — drew a harsh rebuke from both Liberty Media, and F1 itself. In a letter sent to the FIA from F1’s chief legal officer Sacha Woodward Hill, and Liberty’s chief legal officer Renee Wilm, the comments from president Ben Sulayem were “unacceptable,” and “overstep the bounds of both the FIA’s remit and its contractual rights.”

Copies of the letter were provided to both BBC News and Sky Sports.

The letter also referenced an agreement between F1 and FIA, wherein F1 “…has the exclusive right to exploit the commercial rights in the FIA Formula One World Championship”

In their view, the comments from president Ben Sulayem encroached on those commercial rights: “Further, the FIA has given unequivocal undertakings that it will not do anything to prejudice the ownership, management and/or exploitation of those rights. We consider that those comments, made from the FIA president’s official social media account, interfere with those rights in an unacceptable manner.”

The letter concluded with the warning that FIA would be liable if the comments “damage the value of Liberty Media Corporation.”

All of this comes with some very important backdrops. First, the continued growth and expansion of F1 worldwide. As has been well documented here, and elsewhere, the sport has grown over the past few years, and is seeing expansion into the United States. This season, F1 will have three races in the United States, including the debut of the highly-anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix.

In addition, the reporting comes during a period of PIF expansion into the sporting world. The PIF recently purchased Premier League club Newcastle United, and the club is seeing its most successful run of play in years this season. PIF is also financially backing the newly formed LIV Tour, and the PIF has also made a big investment in golf’s Asian Tour. The relationship between the PIF and the LIV Tour is currently a matter of litigation.

Then there are the reports that the PIF is seeking to purchase WWE.

Finally, as discussed here during the rumors of a WWE sale to PIF, is the matter of sportswashing. As outlined in that piece by our own James Dator:

This is the process by which a nation uses entertainment, predominantly sport, as a vehicle to reform a public image. Significant investment, often far above “accepted” market rates, is made into a team, league, or sport as a whole — with an expectation that in exchange the beneficiary will help perform public relations for Saudi Arabia.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has diversified beyond its reliance on oil revenue, and expanded into other areas including the sporting world. All as part of a strategy to soften the nation’s image worldwide, That includes the expansion of F1 in Saudi Arabia, with the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021.

And now, perhaps the acquisition of the sport itself.

Even one-legged Patrick Mahomes can win an ass-kicking contest

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

Mahomes is so good it defies belief.

There are so many stats that help solidify the greatness of Patrick Mahomes, but this one might be the most ridiculous you’ll see.

Just so we’re clear how dumb this is, we need to understand EPA/Play as a statistic. In its simplest term we’re talking about “Expected Points Added,” essentially it tracks how much a single offensive player is adding to their team’s ability to score points.

If a player had an EPA of 0.3, for example, then every 10 plays they’re involved in is expected to result in a field goal. That might not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that Tom Brady’s highest ever single-season EPA was 0.386 in 2007 when he and Randy Moss went HAM on the NFL.

So, this season Mahomes had an EPA per play of 0.302, which is good. On Saturday, after he was hit and hobbling around on a high ankle sprain he still averaged 0.28, which was better than any quarterback in the NFL this season. It’s not quite “Michael Jordan flu game” territory, but it shows that maybe we overstate the impact of just how damaging the ankle injury will be for Mahomes in the AFC Championship game.

Yes, this is just one metric, but it shows how fundamentally misunderstood Mahomes tends to be as a passer. There’s this idea that he operates outside the hashmarks for the majority of his success, but this season he’s been the best passer inside the pocket when he hasn’t had to improvise a lot. Will it take away some of his effectiveness, particularly when asked to extend plays? Perhaps — but we’re still talking about the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL, who can generate offense out of nowhere.

We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out, but for now rest assured, Chiefs fans, y’all have the best QB left in the playoffs — even on one leg.

Fans don’t trust Carlos Correa, but not because of his ankle

Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

MLB fans are dubious of the Carlos Correa deal, but not for the reason you may think.

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across MLB. Throughout the year we ask questions of the most plugged-in fans across the country. Sign up here to participate in the weekly emailed surveys.

Carlos Correa’s offseason has been unlike any other for one player in recent history. One of the biggest free agents available heading into the hot stove season, Correa was announced as a signing for three different teams.

In the end, he finished right where he started, returning to the Minnesota Twins. But the failed physicals that prevented contracts with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets are the most shocking events of the offseason. There are more questions now than when everything started.

At the center of the issue was Correa’s ankle, which has a plate in it from a minor league surgery. Despite having not caused any issues in the shortstop’s major league career so far, the risk was too daunting for the Giants or Mets to sign Correa to the enormous contracts that were agreed upon. The question was clear, do the Mets and Giants know something the Twins don’t – or did they overthink the situation?

According to the latest SB Nation Reacts survey, the answer isn’t that simple. Fans from around the country were asked if they would feel comfortable if their favorite team signed Correa. Less than 50 percent said they’d be on board.

But making things more confusing, it doesn’t appear the old injury is the issue. Roughly two thirds of fans said they didn’t think the ankle would be a problem in the next two seasons. Meaning the problem had more to do with Correa as a player and the size and length of the contract.

That was backed up by how fans feel about the free agent options from this offseason. When asked which signee was the most impactful, Correa finished with only the fourth most votes.

Aaron Judge, who returned to the New York Yankees, finished well ahead of the field with more than a third of the vote. He was followed by Trea Turner and Justin Verlander before Correa.

Be on the lookout for the next survey, with results coming later this week.

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