Liberty Media CEO reveals interest in F1 expansion in Southeast Asia

At a recent ‘F1 in Depth’ event in Monaco, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei discussed the potential expansion of the Formula 1 racing calendar in Southeast Asia. This comes as part of a broader strategy to tap into emerging markets and capitalize on the sport’s growing popularity in Asia.

Maffei outlined the successes and potential opportunities for F1 in Southeast Asia, a region that has shown increasing interest in the sport. The Liberty Media CEO revealed, as quoted by Autosport:

“We’re lucky that we were able to get a Chinese race this year after four years. It was very successful. The interest in China has exploded in part because we now have a Chinese driver.”

He further noted the cultural impact of having national representation in the sport.

Elon Musk, Stefano Domenicali, CEO of the Formula One Group, and Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media talk in the Red Bull Racing garage during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Miami…

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

“Critically, you see cultural identity so much when you have drivers from a country, and when you have teams from a country. And so that’s been great to see the growth in China.”

The CEO also mentioned that beyond China, there is substantial interest from other Asian cities such as Bangkok, Seoul, and multiple locations in Indonesia, keen on hosting Grand Prix events. Maffei explained the criteria used by Liberty Media to evaluate new race locations.

“But there’s a lot of interest across Asia, as we have interest from many cities. But in Asia, as you rightly point out: Thailand, Seoul, and we’ve had interest from Indonesia. There are lots of places which want a Formula 1 race.

“We have really looked at the intersection of where our fans are, where they could be, who could run a great race, and who can frankly afford a race – and all those sorts of intersections of those three circles.

“I think you could very easily see a second one in Southeast Asia [alongside China].”

Adding to the discussion, Stefano Domenicali, CEO of Formula 1, provided insights into the global demand for new F1 races. Domenicali commented to ESPN:

“More than 35 [venues have expressed an interest”

“Eleven [are serious contenders] — so, they are all realistic.

“No, seriously, the request is very, very big. It is up to us to make the right choices. But the number is set at 24. It will stay 24. Don’t forget that five years ago we were at 17 or 18.

“It was a big step to add more in such a short time, but it is just because the market requires it and we love doing great things together. But 24 is the limit.”

He concluded:

“The world is evolving and the need of everyone to push to be the best is there and nothing is given for granted to anyone.

“Of course, we want to push everyone to improve. That is our objective.”