Stefano Domenicali backs up Toto Wolff amid war of words with ex-F1 champion

New teams have to pay a huge sum to get into Formula 1, but the Andretti saga has proven there is more to it than that.

Formula 1 CEO, Stefano Domenicali, has left the door open for Michael Andretti to enter the sport, but reminds him that he is not the only prospective team owner looking for a place.

Earlier this season, Mario Andretti, 1978 world champion and father to 1991 IndyCar champion Michael, confirmed that his son has applied to have a team in the pinnacle of motorsport for 2024.

The American family, who currently run teams in a range of championships including IndyCar and Formula E, tried to purchase the Sauber Group last year, but that deal fell through.

Since the expression of their intent to run a team, Andretti have faced scrutiny from a multitude of figures within the sport, most notably Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner.

READ: Audi and Sauber partnership to be announced imminently

When a new team enters the sport, things change. The money given to the teams by the FIA is reduced, because the prize pit stays the same, but there are more entrants to give it out to.

Therefore, each team would need to take a reduced slice of pie if a new team were to enter, and this is naturally something none of the existing teams want.

The current solution is that new entrants pay $200 million in order to offset the reduction to the prize fund, but this is a one-time payment, so it only mitigates the cost for so long.

Further, the cost cap has been raised to $145 million this season from $140 million at the start of the year, and this is because teams need to account for inflation.  

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Swinging that back the other way, there would be less money for teams to spend period were a new team to make their way in and, in the current financial climate, not many team bosses are putting their hands up in favour of a new entrant.

Wolff therefore suggested that Andretti need to prove that they can inject more into the sport than they are costing it, and he has since been accused of having too much power.

Michael Andretti also labelled F1 “snobbish,” and a “European club,” leading Guenther Steiner, team principal of Haas – the only American team – to advise the former McLaren driver to tone it down if he wants a place in F1.

Domenicali reasoned that, with multiple entities trying to establish themselves as a candidate, he needs to figure out which one is the more realistic option, irrespective of which ones shout the loudest.

“I think today in the actual status of F1, it’s not a problem of quantity, where we can see a step of increasing the value of F1,” he told

“It is a matter of understanding really, not only the ones that have a bigger or louder voice, but there will be other people, because Andretti was quite vocal about his request. 

“There are others that have done the same, in a different way, so the evaluation is not only with Andretti, the evaluation is with others that are respecting the silence on trying to be more productive on proving who they are, and respecting the protocol we have put in place.

“As I always said I don’t believe that it is today the problem of having more teams that will give more value to the championship.

“But there is a protocol that has to be fulfilled and everyone, Andretti included, is following that, so this is the situation today I don’t see any changes, and I don’t want to say yes or no.”

As for the spat between Wolff and the Andrettis, the Italian respects both parties, but reiterates that the 50-year-old is a team principal that has led Mercedes to eight constructors’ titles, so he knows what he is talking about.

“Well, I do believe that Toto has a position as team principal,” added Domenicali. 

“He’s a 30% shareholder of Mercedes, he has a reputation of winning eight [titles] in a row, so I mean his credibility, there’s nothing to add.

“Mario, I know him very, very well, since a long time, he’s trying to present his idea in a way that he thought is the right way to do.

READ: Ex-F1 champion claims Toto Wolff has too much influence over the FIA and Formula 1

“But I do believe that, as you know, there is a governance in place, and the decision has to follow the protocol that is in place. 

“And Mario is very vocal, Michael, too, and I spoke with them quite often, as you can imagine and we need to respect that.

“We may have different opinions, at the end of the day it’s a matter of following the protocol, and there is someone that is to make the final decision. 

“As I said, today I don’t see a weakness in the number of teams in F1, that’s my opinion.”

Hong Kong-based businessman, Calvin Lo, who has involvements with Williams owners Dorilton Capital, has also recently suggested that he is looking to either buy or start a new F1 team.