Speeding Towards Tomorrow: Liberty Media Is Taking a Page Out of F1’s Playbook For 2025 Season

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Liberty Media’s recent acquisition of a significant stake in Dorna Sports, the long-standing overseer of MotoGP, heralds a revolutionary overhaul aimed at rejuvenating and expanding the global appeal of motorcycle racing.

The multi-billion-dollar transaction sees Liberty Media now controlling MotoGP, alongside its other circuits like Moto2, Moto3, and the FIM Enel MotoE World Championship, setting the stage for some significant transformations reminiscent of the changes they brought to Formula One.

With an investment of €4.53 billion ($4.84 billion USD), Liberty’s strategy includes not just enhancing the operational aspects of MotoGP but also aligning it more closely with the highly commercial and popular Formula One. Liberty Media aims to implement a series of changes that could redefine the very fabric of MotoGP racing, drawing from its successful F1 playbook.

The introduction of Pirelli as the sole tire supplier marks a notable shift, replacing Michelin, which has now been relegated to supplying tires for the less glamorous Dorna personnel golf carts. This change echoes the consolidation seen in F1 and is indicative of Liberty’s broader strategy to standardize equipment across its motorsport properties.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking of Liberty’s proposed changes is the shift back to larger capacity two-stroke motors, eliminating rider aids such as traction control, wheelie control, and ride height devices. This decision is a nod to what Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei calls “the pinnacle of the sport,” during the era of Kenny Roberts and his iconic Yamaha. Maffei, known for his love of vintage two-strokes, believes this retro approach will not only challenge manufacturers but also enhance the sport’s appeal by returning to its more raw, traditional roots.

Adding to the excitement, two-time MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner has announced plans for a comeback, intensifying interest and adding a layer of nostalgia and anticipation for fans around the world, which isn’t such a bad thing thanks to the brilliant marketing and success of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” series that is now airing its third season.

Moreover, in a move that could transform spectator experiences, Liberty Media is conceptualizing a combined MotoGP and Formula One exhibition race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. This event, planned for 2025, aims to capitalize on the massive F1 fan base to boost MotoGP’s profile in the United States. The innovative format of this race, including a rolling start for bikes to counteract the speed advantage of F1 cars, promises a spectacle unlike any before, poised to attract record crowds and global attention.

The synergy between MotoGP and F1 will be further explored through Liberty’s media channels, with the event featured in Netflix’s upcoming series “Drive to Ride.” This not only promises thrilling content for viewers but also serves as a strategic move to leverage digital media—a realm in which Liberty has significantly enhanced F1’s presence since its acquisition.

Liberty Media’s comprehensive strategy extends beyond the track. Their six-pronged plan aims to amplify marketing efforts, expand into key growth markets, especially the U.S., and enhance the fan experience both online and offline. The intent is to not just maintain but grow MotoGP’s “highly engaged and loyal fanbase” by broadening the sport’s appeal and increasing its visibility through strategic storytelling and enhanced hospitality experiences.

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, expressed optimism about the partnership with Liberty Media, recognizing its potential to elevate MotoGP to new global heights. With insights from the 2022 Global MotoGP Fan Survey indicating a solid and enthusiastic fanbase, the groundwork is laid for these ambitious expansions.

Earlier this month, Liberty Media announced that it would be acquiring all of the commercial rights to MotoGP, adding the motorcycle racing series to its expansive portfolio of live sports and entertainment assets by the end of 2024 – acquiring approximately 86% of Dorna Sports S.L., the exclusive commercial and TV rights holder of MotoGP.

As Liberty Media reshapes MotoGP using its Formula 1 blueprint, it’s clear that the world of motorcycle racing is on the brink of a new era, taking some plays from F1’s playbook that helped onboard hundreds of thousands of new fans into the sport.