Niki Lauda

Formula One's New Formula

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Europe-centered racing business could make inroads in the U.S. market under its new leadership.

  • Facts


    • Formula One is an open-wheel racing car competition which generates an annual turnover of almost $2 billion.
    • American mass media company Liberty Media bought Formula One in 2016 for $4.4 billion, and has changed some of its rules for the 2017 season.
    • German racing team Mercedes is one of three major contenders for this year’s title.
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Niki Lauda presents new book
Racing legend Nikki Lauda sees a bright fast future ahead for F1. Source: Picture alliance

Niki Lauda, non-executive chairman of the Mercedes Formula One racing team, told Handelsblatt that he backs the strategy of new F1 owner Liberty Media.

Mr. Lauda said that the American mass media company, led by John Malone, is on the right track to restore the sport’s former glory in Europe and potentially break into the U.S. market.

“We have to make the sport more attractive so people actually come to the races or watch them on television,” said Mr. Lauda, a three-time former Formula One world champion. “It’s unarguable that it’s not appealing for viewers if we just drive in circles for two hours,” he said.

Mr. Lauda, who drove for both Mercedes and Ferrari during his career, said Liberty Media wanted to make the races a more interesting spectacle, and he agreed with that strategy.

“One thing already worked out [which] is that we made the cars more aggressive, and that’s gone down well,” he said.

Formula One, the largely European dominated racing sport, has experienced its biggest shakeup yet when U.S. cable TV giant Liberty Media took over the business with annual turnover of nearly $2 billion last year.

This year’s season will be the first one under new ownership, and start with the Grand Prix of Melbourne, Australia on March 26.

Mr. Lauda said under this season’s new rules, Formula-One cars will have wider tires, which allows drivers to take curves at higher speed. That means more risk, but also more room for race time improvements. “Those who can handle that risk will win races,” he said.

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