MILAN: Formula One is walking a tightrope as new owners Liberty Media plan to grow the sport in America, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has warned.
Marchionne, who is also chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, recognised there was a big opportunity to win new audiences in the United States but said the sport’s heritage had to be respected.
US-based Liberty, who took over the sport in January, are planning to add at least one North American race to the calendar after 2018 and want to build up the show around grand prix weekends.
“I think it’s fair to say that (F1 chairman) Chase (Carey) and I agree we need space in the United States,” Marchionne told reporters at a presentation on Saturday of Alfa Romeo’s new partnership with the Swiss Sauber team.
Carey also attended the event.
“I think there is an opportunity here, if we do the things right, to make this a relevant sport in the US environment.
“And if we do that I think it will benefit the sport tremendously,” added Marchionne.
“But I put a big proviso on this. We need to be careful that this desire to make us attractive to the American public doesn’t end up sapping away the DNA of a sport that has some noble origins.”
Marchionne highlighted the US Grand Prix in Austin that saw big fight boxing announcer Michael Buffer present drivers to the crowd individually before the race and then make his signature call of “Let’s get ready to rumble”.