Formula 1 sale set to cross the finish line

Formula One cars Image copyright AFP

US-based Liberty Media is in advanced talks to take control of Formula 1.

Talks with CVC Partners, which owns a 35% stake in F1, are at an advanced stage, the BBC has learned.

Liberty Media has stakes in several sports and entertainment businesses, including the Atlanta Braves Major League baseball club.

A source close to the deal told the BBC's sports editor, Dan Roan, that an agreement is yet to be completed and other parties remain in talks.

Others that have considered buying into F1 include, Qatar Sports Investments, and Stephen Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins American football team.

CVC has held a stake for the past decade but sold some of its holding in 2012.

A sale would end years of speculation and rumours about a potential change of ownership for the motor sport.

German magazine Auto Motor und Sport said the deal had been confirmed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and was worth $8.5bn (£6.5bn).

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Image caption F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone (right) talks to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner

Mr Ecclestone, who owns a 5.3% stake, met with CVC co-chairman Donald Mackenzie and Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, whose company owns the Mercedes team, at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza on Sunday. Mr Ecclestone declined to comment about the sale.

The potential takeover by Liberty Media was met with cautious optimism in F1 circles.

CVC has been criticised for taking considerable profits from the sport, which has suffered from falling TV ratings in recent years.

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The domination of the Red Bull and now Mercedes teams has made races more predictable. Mercedes team has won 13 of 14 races this season.

Given that Liberty is a media and entertainment group, analysts hope it will give more consideration to the spectacle offered by F1.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said: "If there is an investor that wants to buy the shares it is good news for Formula One. Maybe it is good news that an American media company buys Formula One. There are things we can learn from the American way, particularly in digital areas."

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