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Carey: 'No free lunches' as F1 invests to overcome short-termism

Chase Carey, Formula 1 CEO
© XPB 

New Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey says that he's focussed on long-term expansion plans and warned teams of tougher times ahead, saying that there will be 'no free lunches'.

Carey was quoted in an official Formula 1 interview after it emerged that this year's total prize fund was down £31m compared to 2016. The downturn is a result of increased investment in staff, infrastructure and promotional activities since Liberty Media's takeover.

"We were clear that really in the short-term we're investing in building the sport for the longer-term," Carey explained.

"I've said it before: I think the sport has been underserved by a continual short-term focus [under Bernie Ecclestone]. I think we've got some fresh momentum back into it.

"To grow things - well, to use an American phrase, there are no free lunches," he warned.

"A lot of things that were not going in the right direction in recent years," he pointed out. "But this year attendance is up. Viewership is up. And I think we've got a much more positive spirit behind it. The sport needed fresh energy and investment.

"We didn't have an organisation that was able to properly develop, to build the sport," he continued. "We had no research, we had no marketing, we had no digital organisation.

"When we started the year, the first three months of the year we had three people," he said. "If you look at things like the marketing and research and digital, our head of digital started three months ago, our head of marketing started four months ago.

"We have been putting the team in place as the year has evolved. In many ways a large part of our operating organisation is new. Before, we really didn't have a large part.

"We had a financial and legal staff but we didn't have an organisation able to support the business operationally," he noted. "Realistically if you don't have capabilities like that, you are going to fall behind.

"When you're building a digital organisation, usually you have costs before you get returns," he added. "If you're building research capabilities, normally you have to invest in those before you get to use them.

"It's the reality of building capabilities that haven't existed.

"To do things like the Trafalgar Square demo - to do things at broader fan fests - requires investment. However, all are investments in the future of the sport.

"From the teams' perspective, sure, everybody would like to have free lunches and get the growth without the investment [but] the world doesn't work that way."

Carey felt confident that the teams were on board with Liberty Media's plans for the future of the sport.

"I think that there is an understanding of and an appreciation for what we're doing," he said. "In many ways we're very much agreed on what needs to be done for the sport."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner is among those voicing support for Carey's approach.

"Bernie was a one man show and irreplaceable," Horner said. "It was logical that eventually we would have new owners who invest in the sport. I don't see anything bad about that.

"Hopefully we will see the dividends," he added. "But that won't be until 2019-2021."

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