Marko questions whether Saudis should own F1

Outspoken Formula 1 team official Dr Helmut Marko has broken ranks to question whether the sport should be sold to Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the sport’s current commercial rights holders Liberty Media lashed out at FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem’s alleged “unacceptable” interference in F1’s financial affairs.

It followed the emergence of reports that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund had offered Liberty an enormous $20 billion for the rights.

Liberty Media acquired Formula 1 for around $4.6 billion in 2017, prompting Ben Sulayem to hit out at the “inflated” valuation and the associated risk of higher ticket prices.

F1 teams have kept a low profile on the matter since the controversial bid emerged, but top Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko now admits that the fact a $20bn bid “is supposedly on the table” at least shows that the value of the sport is rising.

However, he also told the German broadcaster ntv that he has concerns about Formula 1 falling into the hands of Saudi Arabia.

“I think it wouldn’t be so good if it went to a country that is culturally different from where most of the races take place,” said the 79-year-old Austrian.

“And generally in these commercial matters, it’s more likely to happen with someone who meets normal corporate standards, if you want to put it that way.”

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