F1 Endures Huge Losses in Pandemic Hit 2020 Season

Published 02/27/2021, 1:55 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain – Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas after the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Bryn Lennon


The 2020 F1 season posed numerous challenges for the sport. The season was first postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Then, once the season began, tracks started canceling races due to COVID-19 protocols, and strict limitations meant the fans could not come to the stadium.

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A recent report shared F1’s owner rights holder, Liberty Media’s 2020 financial results. They released the results on Friday and recorded a significant loss during the pandemic-affected season.

“F1’s income tumbled by 44% for a total loss of $386m – compared with the previous year. Overall revenue crashed from $2022m in 2019 to $1145m last season, while the modest profit of $17m in 2019 turned into an operating loss of $386m after the teams were paid.”

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Formula One F1 – Sakhir Grand Prix – Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain. Mercedes’ George Russell leads and Valtteri Bottas is second placed after the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

“The huge dive in race promotion fees was reflected in the fall in their percentage share of F1’s primary revenue, down from 30% of the total in 2019 to just 12% last year. Most races either paid no fee, or a renegotiated one-off lower figure,” stated the report.

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Liberty Media noted that the decrease in race promotion revenues was a significant cause for the losses they incured. However, the primary source of revenue was broadcasting, which went up from 38% to 55% this season.

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The sponsorship revenue was also slightly up this season. “Advertising and sponsorship fees declined driven by one-time changes in sponsorship contracts due to the cancellation of races to which contracted sponsorship inventory specifically related and the limited activities at the races, including hospitality,” said the report.

Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action at the start of the race Pool via REUTERS/Giuseppe Cacace

Liberty Media may have gone through a significant loss through 2020. However, if there was no season, the loss could have been much larger for every party involved.

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Moreover, After the pandemic hit lockdown, F1 was one of the first sporting events to come back as a saving grace during the new-normal. Let us know if the 2020 F1 season helped you through the pandemic, because it sure helped us!

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Ayush Manjunath

586 articles

Ayush Manjunath is a Formula 1 author for EssentiallySports with more than 500 articles to his name. A Law graduate and a current Sports Management student, Ayush also has a certificate from UCLA on Sports, Media and Entertainment Management. He has an undying love for motorsports and lives to see Max Verstappen, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, and Lando Norris battle for the championship one day!

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