F1 opens New York office

New York Skyline
New York Skyline

As it begins negotiations which could see Miami host a Grand Prix in 2019, F1, in its determination to add more races in its American homeland to the calendar is opening an office in New York City.

The office follows the opening of a brand new HQ in London's fashionable St James district last year which, according to the sport's commercial boss, Sean Bratches, is aimed at reflecting the sport's iconic brand.

"F1 was managed out of Bernie's townhouse in Knightsbridge," he tells the KindredCast podcast, "and there was not any room there… they had a conference room called the Playboy Room, and there were centrefolds all over, it was from a different era.

"So Chase and I started out by going to coffee shops, Starbucks, to pick up wi-fi, to have meetings, to communicate.

"Now we have proper real estate in St James," he adds, "and we're starting to build the staff, we've put together a strategic plan. F1 is an iconic brand, and our offices now reflect that. We have a Rolex totem, a Heineken bar…" he reveals.

"This is a brand in need of being detonated from a commercial standpoint and we've got a succession of customers and brands that come through here every single day and we wanted it to look, feel, smell and taste like Formula 1. I think we've done a nice job of doing that."

Well now customers and brands will be able to look, feel, smell and taste F1 in New York City as Forbes confirms that documents filed by satellite radio broadcaster SiriusXM, which is 71% owned by Liberty, state that: "In January 2018, we entered into an agreement with Liberty Media to license approximately 800 square feet of space and provide office services in one of our New York offices for use by Formula One, a subsidiary of Liberty Media. Liberty Media pays us an annual fee of $25,000 for the use of this space."

New offices are likely to mean further staff increases, with Liberty media thought to be looking to at least double F1's headcount which stood at 367 at the end of 2016 before it bought the sport in January 2017.

However, increased headcount, not to mention a plush new London HQ and new offices in New York, are all impacting costs which increased $47m to $1.3bn whilst the loss of a number of sponsors drove revenue down by 1% to $1.8bn, resulting in a $37m operating loss as opposed to a $47m profit in 2016… not bad for a guy working out of an office covered in "centrefolds".

Already this year, Liberty has revealed that its operating loss in the first three months has increased 3.8% to $109m due to "costs associated with additional headcount, new corporate offices, marketing and research".

Offices in New York however might also be seen as the first move to take F1 on to the streets of the iconic city, a target that Liberty has made no secret of.

Then again it was a dream of Ecclestone's also, the most recent attempt ending in a shambles.

Indeed, the F1 in New Jersey fiasco left such a bad taste that Bratches believes the Authorities in New York are soured towards the sport, thereby allowing, once again, Formula E, to gain the advantage.

"We might need a little bit of a change in leadership in that city before we get there," Bratches admits to KindredCast. "It's certainly a city that aligns well with our brand and would be a fascinating spectacle."

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