It’s amazing what you can do when your country is home to the third most valuable nature reserve in the world. Just this year, Saudi Arabia tried it Persuade F1 teams to the Middle EastConfirmed it will be a fixture on the F1 calendar at least for the rest of the decade and is now teasing a plan to try and buy the entire damn sport.
The latest development in Saudi Arabia’s slow takeover of elite motorsport has come to light a new report from Bloomberg. According to the website, the country’s sovereign wealth fund was attempting to buy Formula 1 from its current owners, Liberty Media, for “well over $20 billion.”
Saudi Arabia has reportedly invested more than $1.5 billion in various sports franchises in recent years. According to a report from the human rights organization Grant Liberty, the nation has supported everything from chess and golf to tennis and horse racing in an attempt to “wash over” its poor human rights record.
To date, the country has also poured more than $600 million into top-level motorsport the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to be a permanent fixture on the sporting calendar by 2030. To date, F1 has hosted two events across the nation, with a third at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in the calendar for 2023.
Now the nation is trying to strengthen its ties with motorsport. After Bloomberg, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, “viewed as an attempt” to buy F1 directly from its current owners, Liberty Media. The deal valued the sport at “well over $20 billion,” more than four times its $4.6 billion Liberty bought the sport for 2017. Bloomberg Reports:
“A potential deal fell through in its early stages last year as F1’s owner, Liberty Media Corp., was uninterested in selling the high-profile franchise, which the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) had valued at well over US$20. Dollars valued billions including debt, people said.
“The PIF remains interested in the asset and would be a serious bidder should Liberty Media change its mind and decide to sell it, the people said, asking not to be identified to discuss confidential information.”
The deal is the latest attempt from Saudi Arabia to try to lure F1 east. Last week we reported on a move out of the country to try and convince teams like McLaren and Aston Martin to move into Saudi Arabia’s new neom city, which is currently under construction.
But Formula One isn’t the only top-flight sport catching Saudi Arabia’s attention, the nation has also poured funds into English Premier League football club Newcastle United FC and hosted major boxing events.