1978 champion Mario Andretti has aimed another dig at Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff after the Austrian’s latest protestations of the American entering a Formula 1 team in 2024.
Andretti’s son Michael currently runs an IndyCar and Formula E team, filed paperwork months ago as he officially applied to put a team into Formula 1 in 2024.
It would constitute only the second of two teams currently competing in the pinnacle of motorsport, Haas being the other.
Michael had previously tried to purchase the Sauber group last season in a move that might have opened the door for Colton Herta to enter F1, but that deal fell through.
Therefore, the podium finisher with McLaren has switched his focus to creating a new entrant, and ensuring that, for the first time in what will be eight years, there are 11 teams in the sport.
However, more entrants naturally means that the prize pot has to be shared out more thinly, so every other team would get less money.
As a result, new entrants must pay $200 million as per the concord agreement, but Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has indicated that, because of inflation, this is not enough.
Wolff has made a few more comments that his Red Bull counterpart, and they have all revolved around a necessity for Andretti to prove that they can financially contribute to the sport from a business perspective.
“I think that whoever joins as the 11th team, whoever gets an entry, needs to demonstrate how creative they can be for the business,” he recently told Motorsport.com.
“Andretti is a great name, and I think they have done exceptional things in the US, but this is sport and this is business and we need to understand what is it that you can provide to the sport.
“And if an OEM [original equipment manufacturers] or an international, multinational group joins F1 and can demonstrate that they are going to spend X amount of dollars in activating, in marketing in the various markets; that’s obviously a totally different value proposition for all the other teams.”
Perhaps more cynically, Wolff’s protestations could be a cover for the fact that he does not want Mercedes’ place in the food chain to be threatened by an up and comer.
The Austrian’s stance, in Andretti’s eyes, are indicative of a sport that has built a reputation of being “snobbish, and a “European club.”
Wolff is a former racing driver himself, as well as an entrepreneur and a shareholder in Mercedes.
He holds power in various places, and his Mercedes team also hold power in F1 along with the other teams on the grid.
The teams work together with the FIA and Formula One Management (FOM) to help direct the sport, and an article was written recently asking if Wolff had too much power in the premier class of racing.
Mario endorsed this viewpoint, tweeting: “This needed to be said; it’s about time.”
Porsche and Audi are also set to join F1 in the coming years, but the former are set to supply Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines, while Audi are expected to make a bid for Sauber.
Both are set to join in 2026, but they will not have to reimburse the other teams, as they will not be constituting a new entrant.
*Hi James, could you do this one please? 🙂