Apple to buy Formula 1?

Apple is apparently in serious talks to buy Formula 1. Could a blockbuster F1 acquisition be the perfect platform to push the oft-rumoured Apple Car?

Beats aside, Apple hasn’t really got a history of high-profile acquisitions, usually opting to snap up smaller companies and integrate them into the firm’s existing structure.

An F1 buy would be a different proposition altogether, but however wild it sounds at first, it’s actually not that crazy.

For one, it’s no secret that Formula 1 is up for sale – it’s been publicly looking for a buyer since 2015, with supremo Bernie Ecclestone saying he’s ‘ready’ to sell the financially struggling series.

There’s even been a price attached to the wildly popular racing championship – $8.5 billion, or approximately £6 billion.

It was previously thought that the buyer would be a US-Qatari consortium led by Qatar Sports Investments, best known as the ultra-rich owners of French Ligue 1 football outfit Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Apple could also be throwing its hat in the ring at the last minute, according to noted Formula 1 blogger Joe Saward.

He writes:

“There are whispers from Princes Gate, home of the Formula One group, that there is another round of intensive due diligence going on, which suggests that there is another serious bidder emerging.

“The whisper is that the latest bidder is Apple Inc., which is a company with $161 billion in net cash at the moment.”

So Apple has the money to make the deal, but does it make sense for a company most famous for making phones and computers? Here’s why it might.

It’s common knowledge that Apple is heavily invested in designing a consumer automotive product, potentially called the Apple Car and being developed under the codename ‘Project Titan’.

Related: Apple Car rumours

Such a vehicle would almost certainly be electric, and potentially autonomous, but Apple doesn’t enjoy a foothold in the car industry at present, save for its CarPlay software.

An F1 buy, however, would change all that. As well as acquiring a high-profile platform to promote the Apple Car, it would also take on the organisation’s strong relationships with premium auto manufacturers like Ferrari, Williams and McLaren.

More interestingly though, as the owner of F1, it would catapult itself into a seat at the table with governing body FIA, which also oversees the burgeoning Formula E electric car racing series.

Plus, Formula 1 is one of the most-watched sports in the world, and exclusive streaming rights to F1 would be an obvious boon for the Apple TV.

Remember the high-profile F1 appearance at WWDC earlier this year? Maybe there was more to it all then first met the eye.

Saward explains:

“Apple is on the verge of launching into the world’s automotive markets, with an electric car that remains a secret, although it is hard to hide such a project when you hire more than a thousand engineers to work on it.

“The Apple Car is expected to appear by 2020. Thus, there are three elements that would make the purchase of F1 a logical step of Apple. It can afford it, it can boost sales of Apple TVs and get people thinking about Apple in relation to cars.

“No-one is willing to confirm or deny the stories.”

I visited with Formula E when it headed to Mexico City earlier, and for what it’s worth, speaking with CEO Alejandro Agag at the event, it was clear he was a big admirer of Apple and was sure it was heading into the electric car space.

We’ve reached out to Formula E and FIA and will update this story with any comments provided.