Jun 3, 2024 - Business

The Colorado company that owns F1 racing faces big questions

Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media at Circuit de Monaco on May 24. Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images

Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, at last month's Circuit de Monaco. Photo: Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images

The Colorado-based owner of Formula 1 racing is facing calls for a federal antitrust investigation and lingering questions about a sexting scandal that is threatening its global brand.

Threat level: Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei, a prominent Colorado business leader and political player, is under pressure after rejecting a bid by General Motors and the Andretti racing family to become the 11th team in F1 racing.

  • Six U.S. senators want the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department to investigate F1 for orchestrating a boycott.
  • The House Judiciary Committee opened its own probe and accused the billion-dollar sport of "anticompetitive conduct."

The intrigue: In a heated confrontation recently in Miami, Maffei reportedly told Mario Andretti he would "do everything in [his] power" to make sure the American team didn't enter F1.

The big picture: The controversy comes as F1 stands at a crossroads: Its popularity is at a peak from the Netflix show "Drive to Survive" but its culture is under a microscope.

  • The leader of the reigning champion Red Bull team faces more questions about the alleged harassment of a female employee that included the exchange of a nude picture. Christian Horner was cleared in an internal investigation and remains on the job.

What he's saying: Maffei presented a confident look at the last race May 26 in Monaco, touting the sport's growth. "We have enormous growth in all metrics. Attendance at races, television audiences, engagement on social media, sponsorships. ... F1 has grown dramatically in all of them," he told reporters.

Between the lines: He also pledged to fix the mess F1 made in its debut Las Vegas race last year, which disrupted the city with its extended setup. "I think we'll be smarter, we'll be more efficient, we'll probably be less disruptive to the community, we'll probably understand better and better what fans want," he said.

What's next: F1's future is at stake as the teams renegotiate its governing contract, the Concorde Agreement, which outlines the financial terms and competitiveness rules.

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