Formula 1 owner says Max Verstappen’s domination is “a challenge”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei says Formula 1 has “a very attractive competitive product, other than the fact that Max is that fast”.

Red Bull has been completely dominating Formula 1 in 2022 and 2023, with Max Verstappen leading the charge.

Since it doesn’t appear that any other team will be able to challenge them anytime soon, some have started calling for an F1 and FIA intervention to slow the Austrian team down.

This type of complete domination also tends to affect the public’s interest in the sport, something that Formula 1 owners, Liberty Media, are starting to notice.

At an event hosted by investment company Goldman Sachs, Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said Verstappen’s domination is “a challenge” for F1’s parent company.

“The midfield is quite interesting, and we can show statistically there’s more overtaking than has ever occurred,” Maffei said.

“The challenge obviously is Max Verstappen is having an unbelievable year, or record-setting year.

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“[Formula 1 CEO] Stefano Domenicali is rightly trying to pivot and say: ‘Come watch this historic event, you’ve never seen success like this, you don’t want to miss it.’

“We’ll see if that works.”

Maffei then jokingly referenced an incident in ice skating in 1994, when ice skater Tonya Harding was charged with an involvement in a physical attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan, to increase her chances of winning.

“The reality is, we have a very attractive competitive product, other than the fact that Max is that fast. Short of breaking his leg, a la Tonya Harding, I’m not sure what we can do about that!

“But he’s a phenom. He’s driving what seems to be the fastest car and he’s driving it very well. If you look at the lines he’s taking, how aggressive those lines are, but how well he’s able to navigate them. It is truly stunning. And you can see statistically why he is faster than anybody else.”

While Maffei acknowledged that TV viewership is starting to go down, he said this is not the only measure of F1’s success.

“I think you need to look at overall interest in the sport. Viewership is a little tough.

“We’ve had many successes this year, I think three of the top four races here in the United States were all this year in terms of viewership, and our average viewership is up year over year.

“But nonetheless, there can be a specific circumstance, like last year Miami was standing alone, this year was up against a Miami Heat game in the [NBA] playoffs. Those particular circumstances can drive viewership of a race.

“If you take the totality of interest as measured by growth, not only in linear TV, but how much we’ve grown Instagram, YouTube views, TikTok views, the amount of interest in the sport has only catapulted greater, much greater than double digits.

“So I’m convinced our demand is very high,” Maffei concluded.

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