In days of yore we used to see much larger grid lineups than the current 20 cars. The last race to feature a full 26 car lineup was in 1995, round 5 at the Monaco GP. The collapse of Simtek team the following week meant the season was completed with just 12 teams and 24 cars.
There is within the FIA regulations still an allowance for up to 13 teams of 2 cars and a process that could see F1 return to a 26 grid lineup.
From 1988 to 1992 F1 had up to 39 entrants, though a complicated process of pre qualifying and qualifying would whittle the number down to the full 26 starters for the GP.
F1 grids got smaller
In the first decade of this century the F1 grid has been either 10 or 11 teams (20 or 22 cars), and only during BAR’s ban for fuel tank irregularities (Monaco and Spain 2005) has there been only 18 qualifiers.
With three ‘new’ teams joining F1 in 2010, the field grew to 24 cars, although it dropped again to 22 following the demise of HRT at the end of 2012. Then with Caterham and Marussia missing races and finally going bust, F1 was back to a grid of just 18 cars.
Teams being unable to fulfil the full season and going out of business was deemed unacceptable and so the FIA devised a process where teams who applied need to prove they can be competitive and are financially stable and capable of competing full seasons.
Yet many of the fans of yesteryear long for the larger F1 grids to return and with the rumoured advent of Audi and Porsche joining the sport in 2017, it was hoped they would field full manufacturer teams.
Porsche entry now dead
It appears Porsche are out of the running following their failure to agree a deal with Red Bull Racing and Audi will be buying the Swiss based Sauber team.
The only realistic hope at present to see a larger F1 grid is Andretti Motorsport Global, who Like Haas did wish to create a team rather than acquire an existing outfit.
Predictably there has been much opposition within the paddock from existing teams who are concerned their share of the prize money will be diluted.
F1’s conflicting agendas
As is always the case in Formula One competing agenda’s prevent progress. Liberty Media wanted to up the number of Sprint races from next year onwards but the FIA who are haggling for more money from F1 prevented them achieving the full goals for the Sprint.
F1’s Stefano Dominicali has been cagey on the matter of extra teams joining F1 because he wants the existing teams’ support for other items on his agenda.
Regardless Andretti Motorsport are ploughing on with their application to the FIA to become the 12th team on the grid in 2024.
Andretti vows to make F1 in 2024
Mario Andretti has been quite vocal on the matter recently, as PlanetF1’s interview with the ex-F1 Champ describes.
“Honestly, [the reaction] has been extremely disappointing, obviously, so far, but at the same time, we’re just trying to come up with whatever is asked of us, we’re trying to satisfy it – I don’t know what else we can do.”
“We’re working every single day on this project, with the intention to be on the grid in 2024. We’re preparing as if we were given the go-ahead.
“So, Michael is on it, and that’s what we expect to do. We’re certainly not giving up. It’s a very serious project for us, and we’re ready to make that investment.”
“You hear different opinions sometimes, from different teams and so forth, and you wonder why there’s some disrespect out there that I don’t know that’s what we deserve,” Andretti continued.
“Our intentions are good for the sport. I don’t know why that investment wouldn’t be good, especially when you’re looking at a season going to 24 races next year, where it’s going to be such incredible stress on all the teams.
“To be able to ensure that you can guarantee a full grid, if you have a team or so potentially dropping out for a race or whatever, at least you have some insurance with 11 teams – that’s 22 prospective drivers out there.”
It seems unlikely an F1 entry from Andretti Motorsport Global would not be properly funded like his fellow American Gene Haas project has been at times.
Ironically it could be the FIA who come to Andretti’s aid, given they have the final say on his F1 application and the teams may just be forced to suck it up.
— RaceFans (@racefansdotnet) September 24, 2022