Despite Losing NBC Job, Will Buxton Supports Liberty’s Vision For F1

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Will Buxton, Daniel Ricciardo

Photo via Red Bull Racing

Not everybody is thrilled with the changes that Liberty Media is implementing in Formula One. But one person that American fans might expect to oppose them apparently doesn’t.

Will Buxton, who served as NBC Sports’ F1 pit lane reporter from 2012 to 2017, spoke out in support of Liberty’s plan for the series Wednesday on Sky Sports’ show “F1 Report.” Buxton delivered a strong rebuttal to the Daily Mail’s Jonathan McEvoy, who portrayed Liberty as the ruination of F1, calling McEvoy’s commentary “complete and utter rubbish, every word of it.”

One of the most significant moves Liberty has made since purchasing F1 after 2016 was signing a deal to move race broadcasts in the United States from NBC to ESPN in 2018. The decision — made largely because ESPN will produce generic, low-cost telecasts — has put Buxton, David Hobbs, and Steve Matchett out of jobs.

“Look, I sit here unemployed,” Buxton said. “I have every reason to not like the direction that Liberty is taking the sport, and yet I do because I see positivity in it and I see progress.”

McEvoy opened the segment about Liberty Media’s strategy with a laughably cliched criticism of the sport’s new owners. He resorted to the tired stereotype that Americans don’t understand F1 — something Gene Haas and Zak Brown have proved is untrue — and Brits, such as Bernie Ecclestone, are the only people fit to run the sport.

“I worry about these new chaps from America,” McEvoy said. “They don’t understand British sport, they don’t understand European sport, they don’t understand that it needs stuff going on in the background. It cannot be run with all the single-minded narrowness of a New York board room.”

The problem with that argument, which Buxton highlighted in his response, is that F1 is not a British or a European sport. While the its roots are in the U.K., and Brits predominantly have been responsible for its growth, it is a world championship.

What’s more, Liberty has said it will not run the sport with an iron fist, as Ecclestone did. It instead has hired successful individuals, such as former team boss Ross Brawn, to offer their expertise on how to improve F1.

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