LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Formula One is red hot as the event rolls into the Nov. 18 Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Popularity from the Netflix “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” series has raised the sport’s profile in America, and the partnership with Las Vegas will only build on that when drivers race on the 3.8-mile course at speeds up to 212 mph — at night.
F1 is big business. The Formula One Group is owned by Liberty Media, owners of SiriusXM and the Liberty Live Group, with minority ownership in Live Nation. The racing division isn’t as big as SiriusXM, but it’s growing.
Liberty Media is at No. 340 on the Fortune 500 list of U.S. companies that generate the most revenue. That’s lower on the list than MGM Resorts International (315), but higher than Caesars Entertainment (354).
Liberty released its third quarter earnings on Friday morning, reporting revenues that were down because the company spun off ownership of Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves into a new company (Atlanta Braves Holdings).
But the excitement over the Las Vegas Grand Prix was evident. Greg Maffei, Liberty Media president and CEO, said, “At Formula 1, the Las Vegas Grand Prix is two weeks away and will be the highest attended sporting event drawing the biggest viewing audience in Vegas history. This event will deliver a spectacular fan experience and is accruing long-lasting commercial benefits for the broader Formula 1 ecosystem.”
Las Vegas joins Miami and Austin as F1 host cities in the U.S., with 23 races worldwide in 2023.
Third-quarter revenue fell 1.2% to $3.21 billion. Formula One accounted for $887 million of that revenue — about 28% of Liberty’s total revenue in the quarter — with $107 million in operating income.
“Formula 1 continues to experience sell-out crowds, record race attendance and strong growth across our social and digital platforms, outpacing that of other major sports leagues. This growth is attracting commercial partners, including our recent agreement with American Express that marks the first new sports vertical they have sponsored in over a decade,” according to Stefano Domenicali, Formula 1 President and CEO.
“There were $8 million of costs associated with the planning of the Las Vegas Grand Prix included in selling, general and administrative expense in the third quarter of 2023,” the earnings release said.
“Total cash and cash equivalents attributed to Formula One Group increased $119 million during the quarter as cash from operations at F1 more than offset capital expenditures primarily related to the Las Vegas Grand Prix,” it said.
The culture surrounding F1 is international, and although the championship is already decided coming into the Las Vegas event, millions of dollars are at stake if there are shifts in the standings as the season nears its end.
Max Verstappen and the Red Bull team have dominated this year. But Las Vegas isn’t a big deal in Verstappen’s eyes. “First of all, I think we are there more for the show than the racing itself if you look at the layout of the track,” he told Motorsport.com. “But you know, I’m actually not that into it. I’m more like, I’ll go there and do my thing and be gone again.”