Michael Andretti appears to be one-step closer to getting Andretti Global into Formula 1 at last, with Mohammed Ben Sulayem having revealed that the FIA will look into allowing ‘prospective new teams’ into F1.
“I have asked my @FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA @F1 World Championship,” Ben Sulayem posted on Twitter.
The news comes on the back of Andretti pushing for a 2024 entry, with the company wanting their own team for next year to be able to build a foundation before the new engine regulations in 2026.
Ben Sulayem’s comments are the first real indication that the governing body is prepared to welcome new teams, with Andretti having previously failed to convince the FIA to let them join the paddock.
The news likely won’t fill Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff with much joy, with the Austrian being against new teams joining the championship, as it would mean the prize fund will be divided amongst more competitors.
“We have 10 entries today, we divide the prize fund among those 10 entries,” Wolff previously said.
“We have invested considerable amounts over the last 10 years.
“I mean, each of the organisations that’s sitting here on the podium has probably put more than a billion into the Formula 1 projects over the years, so it needs to be accretive.
“If a team comes in, how can you demonstrate that you’re bringing in more money than it’s actually costing: because the 11th team means a 10 per cent dilution for everybody else.”
Wolff does have a point, with the three most recent additions to the championship having all folded or left by 2016.
In 2010, the FIA allowed HRT, Lotus (who became Caterham in 2012), and Manor Marussia to join the field.
HRT performed woefully and failed to ever score a point before they folded at the end of 2012, the exact same fate which Caterham faced mid-2014, again without having scored a single point.
Manor Marussia were by far the best of the trio, but still failed to ever really perform.
Their two points came thanks to the late Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, with the side having then left the sport at the end of 2016 following financial issues.
Should Andretti join the sport, they’ll need to offer a strong package to convince the other teams that welcoming new outfits is good for them and the championship, with it all ultimately dependant on money.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown agrees with Wolff’s stance but is also aware of how big the Andretti name is already in the sport, something which “would add a lot of value” to F1.
“I agree with Toto,” Brown said.
“You know, we’ve got 10 great teams, and 11th and the 12th team need to add value to the sport.
“Obviously, the Andretti name has a huge history, in Formula 1, in various forms of motorsport, and I think would add a lot of value.
“So as long as it’s a team that helps build the sport, unlike some of the other entries that we’ve seen, over the years that have come and gone in year two or three, I think we can’t accept teams like that.”